Night of the Prog 2015, The first day!

And Friday’s gone at Loreley… And what a Friday it was. No Murphy this time – my photo pass was there, the photographers corral in front of the stage was well guarded by a huge (Polish?) security guy and everything worked out pretty well. The weather was a bit too hot, 35 celcius, but who cares when they get treated to a day of music like we had today. Wifi is still broken so I’ll limit the amount of photos to 1 and will do the same tomorrow and Sunday – to save money on my mobile phone network connection. An overview of the best pics of the festival will follow within about a week, to make up for this.

Dutch band Lesoir was a pleasant surprise. I had heard about them, in a positive way mostly, but had not gotten around to checking them out. Metal? Perhaps, perhaps not. I heard some pretty heavy riffs, but also Porcupine Tree or Sylvium like sounds, and the flute of vocalist Maartje Meessen may be made of metal, it certainly isn’t a typical metal instrument. They took care of the not always thankful job of opening the festival, in a brilliant way. The not yet complete audience was happy enough to cheer them on.

After Lesoir, Beardfish from Sweden took us along among others their albums Sleeping In Traffic Pt2, The Void. and their latest +4626-COMFORTZONE. Rikard Sjöblom showed up in a Hawaiian shirt and led the band through a great and energetic set. Their bass player is the the scariest person I saw on stage today, but also very energetic and full of movement. If not the most energetic bass player of today, then he is only second to Johan van Stratum of Gentle Storm.

Gentle Storm, who came on third, are headed by Anneke van Giersbergen, who’s voice was ‘fucked’ as she said herself. With the help of backing singer Marcella Bovio, she managed to play the full set anyway. I saw this band three times now, the first two were the opening gigs of the Diary tour, in Amsterdam and Ittervoort. In these four months, the band has become tighter and their performance breads fun and friendship, the interaction on stage is amazing. Still, third time, same set (albeit somewhat shortened today) is a bit of a let down for me personally, but the audience definitely enjoyed it.

Another band that usually is good for fun and partying is Pendragon, with captain Nick Barrett taking centre stage. With their latest album, they’ve moved to slightly darker course, which showed also in the show today – but it was still the normal, well performed and uplifing Pendragon we saw and heard.

After Pendragon, the two acts of which the most was expected took the stage – first the Neal Morse band, with Mike Portnoy on drums and then Camel.

Neal Morse is a man I know from Spock’s Beard, and due to his views on life, I never bothered checking out his ‘solo’ works. What a mistake that turned out to be. The band came on stage and blew me out of my shoes with energising instrumentals, brilliant vocal harmonies and none of the preaching I had expected. The only time the word prayer was used, was when Neal dedicated a song to a girl who had a stroke and was taken to hospital during the festival. Can’t blame him for that, can I? The picture below is from Neal Morse’s show, at some point he simply ran into the audience and started hugging people. He had visited the audience earlier also, but from within the photographers area, the second time he went outside.

Funny detail: I had Mike Portnoy dead center in my lens the first time, and he seemed to have noticed that. He pointed to my left, just before I shot my pic, to Neal running past me – as if hinting me to a different target.

After Neal Morse, the closing act of the day was Camel. A band from the seventies, that I know from albums like Nude and Mirage, but some of their older tracks are much more worthwhile – e.g. Snow goose or Lady Fantasy, and top of the bill the instrumental guitar track Ice. The latter two were part of this show, which I enjoyed while having a very late dinner (just before midnight), and without being too focused on the setlist. That was easy to do, because we were directed out of our photo pit after three tracks. No more picture taking (and no filming at all), per request from Andy Latimer himself (just like on other dates of the current tour). Nevertheless, a worthy closing act, because in the end it is about the music, and Ice is breath taking, always.

Off to bed now, and on to tomorrow….

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