The Gentle Storm @ De Melkweg, March 26 2015

It was a rainy evening in The Heart of Amsterdam when we, with hundreds of others  lined up in front of the entrance of De Melkweg for the opening show of The Gentle Storms 2015 tour. A show that was planned to start less than a week after the album The Diary was released – as a proper tour in support of an album should.

After spending some time in the rain, we got inside just after opening act Stream of Passion, started playing. A fitting choice, having one Arjen Lucassen project opening for another, also because lead singer Marcela Bovio and bass player are part of the live line up for The Gentle Storm. Pity De Melkweg proved its reputation on not having the best sound, from where we were standing (right behind the sound guy!) the sound was a bit muddy, with the lows coming in a tad too strong. Then again, maybe it’s been a bit too long since I last saw a metal band play live. Stream of Passion does look and sound like a band that have fun on stage, everybody was moving around the stage, and interacting with each other and the audience. And Marcela’s violin still adds something special to the music. A short set, but a good warm up for the main act of this evening.

Stream of Passion setlist:

  • A War of Our Own
  • The Curse
  • Deceiver
  • Street Spirit (Fade Out) (Radiohead cover)
  • In the End
  • Haunted

After rebuilding the stage, or at least replacing some keyboards and guitars, the lights on the stage were dimmed a little, and familiar sounds started playing – for those who already had heard the album. A smiling and waving Anneke van Giersbergen ran onto the stage, dressed in leather pants and jacket, and a bright red blouse – shortly followed by the rest of the band, to guide us through the first track from The DiaryEndless Sea. Of course, the Gentle tour was already done, so we were treated to the Storm version of the album here. After Endless Sea, we got The Heart of Amsterdam, but from there the band certainly chose not to play the full album sequentially, nor to stick to just the album. In the end, the whole album was of course played, but in a slightly different order (weird, for a diary). Only The Gathering‘s Eleanor interrupted the flow.

Anneke solo

Half way, the moment everyone anticipated finally came; Arjen Lucassen coming on stage for this opening gig, which was announced by Anneke coming on stage on her own. With only an acoustic guitar she gave us her version of Wish You Were Here, and then the big, wel at least tall, man himself came on. Together, accompanied partly by Marcela and guitarist Ferry Duijssens (guitar) and Joost van den Broek (keyboards) they played the ‘gentle version’ of The Moment followed by three acoustic Ayreon covers: ComatoseValley of the Queens and Hope. Arjen played guitar, sang and in his soft, shy voice thanked everyone and the band for their hard work and support. One of the most modest people I’ve ever seen on a stage.

Anneke en Arjan

After this intermezzo, a one off, as far as we know now, The Gentle Storm continued with two more tracks from The Diary and a number of tracks from other bands and projects Anneke was or is involved in : Ayreon, The Gathering, Agua de Annique and The Devin Townsend Project. They closed the (long!) evening with a great version of Shore of India.

Gentle Storm full

The sound during The Gentle Storm was quite good, surprisingly after what I noted earlier. Somehow, the sound engineer managed to get rid of the low drones that mudded Stream of Passion. From the same place we were before, we could now hear all the instruments and really enjoy the contribution of the individual musicians.  Merel Bechtold playing a 7-string guitar as if she was born with it, bass and guitar duo Ferry Duijssens and Johan van Stratum, drummer Ed Warby, and keyboardist Joost van den Broek were the perfect companions for the voice of Anneke van Giersbergen and Marcela Bovio. The over 40 instruments used on The Diary were not included in the show of course, which made it all sound slightly heavier and a little bit more metal than the album, but for this live setting that was actually a good thing. A great show, for a very nice album, and played by a great band. Glad I get to see them again tonight – at Rock Ittervoort.

The Gentle Storm setlist:

  • Endless Sea
  • The Heart of Amsterdam 
  • Brightest Light
  • The Storm
  • Eyes of Michiel
  • Eléanor  (The Gathering)
  • New Horizons
  • Wish You Were Here (Acoustic, Pink Floyd)
  • The Moment (Acoustic, with Arjen Anthony Lucassen)
  • Comatose (Acoustic, Ayreon, with Arjen Anthony Lucassen)
  • Valley of the Queens (Acoustic, Ayreon, with Arjen Anthony Lucassen)
  • Day Seven: Hope (Acoustic, Ayreon, with Arjen Anthony Lucassen)
  • Cape of Storms
  • The Greatest Love
  • Waking Dreams (Ayreon)
  • Witnesses (Agua de Annique)
  • Strange Machines (The Gathering)
  • Isis and Osiris (Ayreon)
  • Fallout (Devin Townsend Project cover)
  • Shores of India

Track of the Day: Gentle Storm – Heart of Amsterdam

Anneke van Giesbergen and Arjen Lucassen have cooperated a lot the last 15 years. This years, they release another project together, The Gentle Storm, with an album called The Diary and an accompanying tour – of which I witnessed the opening gig yesterday evening at the Melkweg in Amsterdam. A very nice album (review pending) and a wonderful gig – which for the occasion also featured a short acoustic set with maestro Arjen Lucassen himself, who won’t be joining the full tour. Gig report will follow this weekend, and tomorrow evening I will see them again during Rock Ittervoort, together with Arena and Sylvium. Enjoy, like I always enjoy Anneke’s wonderful voice….

Track of the Day: Harvest – Into the void

A bit of a surprising track of the day – this one by Harvest. I had to take a pick from the 11 tracks on their latest album, Northern Winds, and this was the only one they put online themselves. The opening track, just vocals and piano – but it is an opening that will hopefully make you want to hear more of this Spanish band, from my favourite city Barcelona. Enjoy, like I enjoyed tapas in Barcelona a few times….

Track of the Day: Jukka Tolonen Band – Carnival

Jukka Tolonen is one of the most interesting jazz rock and fusion guitarists I’ve come across the past few years. Being active in various bands, but mainly under his own name since 1969, he brings a nice mix of guitar sounds and is not afraid to put a bit of humour in his productions (his 1980 album Just Those Boys contains a track that is called “Fart”-ington Blues, and it starts with….? Exactly!). This track of the day is dedicated to a great guitarist, who seems to have become less active recently (his web site is no longer online). Enjoy… like the relieve you feel after degassing….



Manning – Akoustik #2

Guy Manning has been around for quite a while in the prog scene. The band that wears his name has been around since 1997, and although he announced it to quit in 2012, another album, Akoustik #2 was released in November 2014 under that same name.

Akoustik 2 Album-Cover

Next to his own band, Manning has been a member of Parallel or 90 Degrees (PO90) and The Tangent and is now a member of United Progressive Fraternity, headed by Mark ‘Truey’ Trueack, who released a very interesting album end 2014 as well.

Akoustik #2, as the title already indicates, is an acoustic album, containing 12 tracks, of which 9 are re-arranged from existing Manning material. I am not familiar with all Mannings albums, so I did not even attempt to do a comparison between the originals and the acoustic versions. Instead, I enjoyed listening to an album that is definitely suitable for a quiet evening with a bottle of wine. Not a typical progressive rock album, but rather a folky, sometimes jazzy album performed by 10 musicians taking their time to get things right.

The translation of progressive rock to an acoustic setting, combined with the somewhat typical voice of Guy Manning himself makes that in many places this album reminds of Jethro Tull albums, for example in the chorus of one of the new tracks, The Saturday Picture Show. In fact, re-reading my notes, this also holds for the other two new tracks, Moorlands Skies and Yesterday’s Hero. Instrumentally, all three are great tracks.  The Saturday Picture Show contains nice acoustic guitar and mandolin interplay, while Moorland Skies contains very tasty fretless bass work.

Apart from these three, the older tracks, taken and re-arranged from Manning albums released between 1999 and 2009, are an interesting mix of styles and feels.

Where Songs from the Bilston House and Icarus & Me are folky rock songs, Joshua Logan is a more full blown folk song, with an Irish folk feel to it.

Blue Girl is suitable for a late night dance in a jazz club, with a beautiful saxophone solo and it’s 1950s, early 1960s feel. It forms a nice trio with the melancholic Flight 19 and A Strange Place.

The closing track Winter is dark, and for sure wintery – if I had had a say in it, I would’ve ended the album with the next to last track, Ships instead, to leave the listener with a happier feeling after playing the album. Both are well executed, but the Ships is more up tempo, and brings a more optimistic feel. For me it’s the best track on the album. The opening reminds of Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, and mixes that with Jethro Tull, folk and jazz influences – topped with a beautiful saxophone solo.

All in all, this album is a fun listen, with very nice acoustic arrangements of originally electric song. It’s hard to qualify it as progressive rock in that sense, progressive folk may be a better fit. But, with that in mind, certainly worthwhile listening – for Manning as well as Jethro Tull fans.

Night of the Prog, Part 5: Let’s add Neal Morse and Lesoir!

Looks like my weekend in Germany in July won’t get any better. This week Lesoir and Neal Morse (with Mike Portnoy) were added to complete the program. Times were shuffled a bit again – but here’s the program. Let the good times roll come July, what a way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a festival!


Friday, 17.07.2015 Get In appr. 13.00 h

13.30 h LESOIR




20.30 h NEAL MORSE & BAND (incl. Mike Portnoy)

23.00 h CAMEL

Saturday 18. Juli 2015 Get In appr. 11.30 h

12.00 h LUNA KISS

13.30 h IO EARTH

15.00 h SYLVAN

16.45 h LAZULI

18.30 h THE ENID


23.00 h FISH – 30th Anniversary Misplaced Childhood Show

Sunday 19. Juli 2015 Get In appr. 11.30 h



15.00 h HAKEN



20.30 h STEVE HACKETT plays for the last time “GENESIS REVISITED”

Gig photos

I tried a few times now to take good pictures during live gigs. It’s hard, but I’m getting better at it. Main challenge: capture the right moments, while not using flash.

These were made last weekend, during a show of Italian prog band The Watch. I’m happy with the results, although I would’ve preferred a darker background on the drummer and bass player to match the other foto’s. My goal was to get exactly this atmosphere – dark background and profiles of the musicians, showing them either fully focussed, happy, or both.

My current gear: Nikon D3200 (simple, effective even if a bit slow sometimes) and a Nikon 70-200mm F.2.8 VR objective.

DSC_0295 DSC_0246 DSC_0209 DSC_0185 DSC_0177

Track of the Day: Steam Theory – Asunder

On this mid March Monday, the new track of the day is for Steam Theory, a project started by multi-instrumentalist (they grow on trees these day) Jason Denkevitz. He’s composed, recorded and released the album Asunder by himself, and has now found the right people to make this into a full blown band, that performs live. The title track of the album is a good sample of what Jason means by progressive rock/fusion music – so enjoy Asunder. Enjoy it like I enjoyed finding out through pictures on the band web site that Jason performs sitting down on a chair, just like Robert Fripp…

Track of the day: Fish – State of Mind

I’ve been a Marillion fan for years, but mainly of the Fish era. Partly because of the music the band created at the time, partly because of the emotion the big man managed to put in both his lyrics and vocals. That didn’t change when he left, and he found great musicians for his debut album, including one of my favourite bass players, John Giblin. On this track, from the album Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors, the fretless bass provides the signature of the song, which lyrically deals with the political situation in the UK at the end of the Thatcher era.
So, a second ‘Friday track of the day’, one of my all time favourites. See you on Monday for a new track, from a new album.

Enjoy once, and then again…

Night of the Prog, part 4: Luna Kiss added as opening act

Two more slots to fill on Night of the Prog, today Luna Kiss were added as opening act on Friday, and IO Earth were moved to Friday.



Friday, 17.07.2015

  • 13.30 h Luna Kiss
  • 15.00 h TBA
  • 16.30 h Beardfish
  • 18.20 h Anneke van Giersbergen presents The Gentle Storm
  • 20.30 h Pendragon
  • 23.00 h Camel

Saturday 18. Juli 2015

  • 12.00 h IO Earth
  • 13.30 h TBA
  • 15.00 h Sylvan
  • 16.45 h Lazuli
  • 18.30 h TBA
  • 20.30 h Riverside
  • 23.00 h Fish – 30th Anniversary Misplaced Childhood Show

Sunday 19. Juli 2015

  • 12.00 h Special Providence
  • 13.30 h Kaipa DaCapo
  • 15.00 h Haken
  • 16.30 h Steve Rothery Band
  • 18.15 h Pain Of Salvation
  • 20.30 h Steve Hackett plays Genesis Revisited

TBA = to be affirmed – Bands and Times can be changed