C2C Country To Country Festival - Live festival review

Saturday 2nd of March and Sunday 3rd of March 2024 –

Ahoy, Rotterdam, The Netherlands


The festival C2C (Country To Country) is the biggest European countryrock festival and it takes place in various cities every year. I never experienced this festival, so when I was able to attend the festival in the area where I live, which is in the city of Rotterdam, it was clear that this was going to be an interesting visit, because country musicians do not visit The Netherlands very often. It was a good opportunity to catch up with a bunch of the latest new sensations from the USA, but also a few established acts were part of the line-up. In 2024 the festival is spread over London, Glasgow, Belfast, Berlin and Rotterdam. The London edition is huge, with many stages and at least 100 acts playing over 3 days. In Rotterdam there are 3 stages and a total of 22 artists/bands performing over 2 days. However, what surprised me is the incredible high level of all the acts, because from the very first seconds of the event on Saturday afternoon until the end on Sunday evening it was a joy to watch and experience all these high profile acts doing incredible performances at the Ahoy venue in Rotterdam. Some of these acts are huge in the USA, but over here in Europe there is a smaller audience for the country related music, which is a pity, because their music is often much more than country, as most of the newer acts melt it with other music influences, and eventually some become major superstars (TAYLOR SWIFT).

Actually in The Netherlands we do have some Dutch country crossover pop/rock acts that are very popular, such as ILSE DELANGE, WAYLON, DANNY VERA and perhaps DOUWE BOB, but when you get the chance to see some of the hottest new acts from Nashville, Texas, Georgia and other parts of the USA, then you will understand that those acts, such as RANDALL KING, RESTLESS ROAD, JACKSON DEAN, LAKEVIEW, OLD DOMINION, DRAKE MILLIGAN and of course the legendary BRAD PAISLEY, they are simply said the real deal when it comes to the best of the best in country/americana/singer/songwriter related pop/rock music. The collection of 20-25 artists and bands on 2 nights without a single minute of waiting time means there is some overlapping and you have to choose here and there, but overall it was possible to see each act for at least a while without missing anything else. The main stage and spotlight stage were in the same hall, making it possible to continue with live music all throughout the afternoon/evening. In the main hall of the venue there was the food and merchandise area, but also a second stage, so you could always drop by to catch some of the great acts on that stage.

HALLE KEARNS was the opening act of the festival, but she also performed later that day on a different stage, so for yours truly the festival started with an amazing unique performance labelled as Introducing Nashville, which was host to 3 Nashville based singer/songwriters whom each performed a few songs, and I have to say that they all sounded sensational, both vocally and songwise. They performed with their acoustic guitar only, and you can definitely hear the high level of such Nashville based artists. GREYLAN JAMES, LAUREN WATKINS and KARLEY SCOTT COLLINS are their names, and they performed a lovely show together but separately, because they sat next to each other and switched during each song. Especially Lauren has got an incredible voice (a la JAIME KYLE and KT TUNSTALL), but Karley and Greylan sounded great as well. I loved in particular Karley’s song Heavy Metal, which was dedicated to the music her father played in the car on the way to school. I am quite sure these singer/songwriters will become bigger in the near future, because their performances on this main stage showed they are able to keep the people interested from start to finish.

After this fantastic start it was up to newcomer MASON RAMSEY to perform on the smaller spotlight stage, and he is a very young talented singer, who sounded pretty good actually. However, at the same time on the second stage a singer/songwriter called FANCY HAGOOD was presenting his music, so I moved on. Fancy is from Nashville, but moved to Los Angeles for a while since coming out in 2011. He is now settled in Nashville again, and building up a career with some great country music, and all together this was a solid acoustic show that would serve as a nice warming up to the rocking evening that started at 18:05 sharp with RANDALL KING.

RANDALL KING is yet another upcoming country singer that brings us classic country, yet with a typical Americana/AOR touch here and there. During songs like Burns Like Her and Hey Cowgirl he has that VAN STEPHENSON ish AOR touch during the catchy hook and memorable chorus, although vocally Randall has got the typical Country voice like for example KENNY CHESNEY, BRAD PAISLEY, TIM MCGRAW, KEITH URBAN, etc. etc. I am convinced Randall will become a huge star in the future. I sadly missed CARTER FAITH as I had to grab some food in order to make it through the rest of this sensational evening, because up next was RESTLESS ROAD. This is actually a trio of 3 lead singers (Zach Beeken, Colton Pack and Garrett Nichols) who sang lead and harmony together each and every song, while being backed by a full band. Although at first sight they look and act like a boyband, they are really good singing those harmonyvocals together. They recently released their debut and they are definitely an act to watch out for in the future, because these 3 singers are going to be bigger stars for sure. The only complaint here is that this stage was way too small for them. Their catchy melodic country pop/rock belongs to a bigger stage and I am convinced that next time they will not be seen in such a small setting, because those voices scream for a much bigger stage.

ALANA SPRINGSTEEN was up next on the main stage and she is not related to Bruce, although you might think she is with such a name! Her music is live on stage this evening more leaning towards commercial melodic poprock with an AOR touch. She has a superb guitarplayer in her band who throws some lovely soaring guitarsolos in each and every song, while the songs are very catchy and as already mentioned it’s actually far removed from country music. It’s a bit sounding like ILSE DE LANGE, but overall much better I think than Ilse’s music, and it’s clear that Alana is following the footsteps of her idol TAYLOR SWIFT to make crossover country-pop for a bigger audience than only the country community. She has a very strong voice and her stage performance is really good, so who knows she will become a huge star herself in the near future. Fans of female fronted singer-songwriter AOR/Poprock a la JAIME KYLE, MARTEE LEBOW, PAT BENATAR and such might also want to check out ALANA SPRINGSTEEN, because it is more in that direction than pure country music, at least live on stage on C2C, because when listening to her recently released debut album Twenty Something it is definitely classic female country 90s pop/rock of SHANIA TWAIN, FAITH HILL, CARRIE UNDERWOOD, etc.etc. Personally speaking I loved the live performance, the music and Alana’s voice, so definitely a winner here, although the die-hard country fans might find her music a bit too much pop/rock orientated here on this stage. On the other hand, she couldn’t do anything wrong this evening, because the crowd sang along with her when she did a cover of the 80s WHITNEY HOUSTON classic I Wanna Dance With Somebody!

Anyway, moving on to the smaller spotlight stage again with the young upcoming star HALLE KEARNS, who brought us a nice typical modern female country pop style, and her strong voice made it definitely worth it watching the whole show, but there was another female singer on the second stage at the same time, and I really wanted to see her, because COLBIE CAILLAT is already huge in the USA with several Grammy Awards. It’s clear why, because her voice and music is excellent melodic music that combines country, pop and rock. She has already released a lot of albums the past few decades, and many charted high in the US Billboard Charts, while she also co-wrote songs on TAYLOR SWIFT 2nd album Fearless. Colbie stays true to her melodic acoustic tingled music and despite the fact this might only appeal to a smaller audience than Taylor’s huge following, Colbie’s music is authentic and beautiful to listen to, especially live on stage.

BRAD PAISLEY was the main attraction on the Saturday line-up, because he is a major star in the US Countryscene and far beyond. He is one of the big names when it comes down to country music for at least the past 25-30 years. Actually TAYLOR SWIFT was one of his opening artists about 15 years ago, but we all know that she eventually became the biggest popstar ever to come out of the country world. However, Brad remains a true countryrocker and delivers here the best show of day 1 of the C2C festival, because from the start until the end he performs an excellent mix of uptempo country rockers, midtempo pieces and ballads. For example I Thought I loved You Then is an incredible ballad (AORish) and Tennesse Home and American Saturday Night cool uptempo rockers. He is a fantastic lead singer and he can shred the guitar very well, while his performance act on stage was phenomenal, because he’s really connecting with the audience, especially when at one point he takes a selfie with a cell phone he got from a girl in the audience. He didn’t gave the cell back before checking all the pictures on her phone, so he was fooling around and making fun, and that’s basically what was going on throughout the whole show, having fun and giving everyone the best time of their lives, because after all, BRAD PAISLEY is not a musician you can watch live many times in your life if you live in Europe! Between all his own songs he managed to sneak in a crowd favorite country classic such as JOHN DENVER’s Take Me Home, Country Roads, which of course completed the show as being the purest country show of the day. Concluded, day 1 was an incredible roller coaster ride with so much great music by a lot of fantastic singer/songwriters, so it was already a successful festival after just 1 day, but there was one more day to come…

Day 2 started at 16:15 sharp with BEN CHAPMAN, another great singer/songwriter who looked like a rocker, kinda reminding me both visually and vocally of the days when BRETT MICHAELS of POISON and JON BON JOVI added a little country touch in their music somewhere in the early 90s. It sounded quite close to Blaze Of Glory, so then you more or less understand what Ben was doing. He was connecting quite easily with the crowd and the short show was a nice opening of Day 2. Then I went to the main stage to watch the amazing DRAKE MILLIGAN. He’s a singer/songwriter/guitarist from Texas who is clearly influenced by ELVIS PRESLEY and classic Country singers such as GEORGE STRAIT. He definitely has the Elvis looks and moves, while his music is a mix of old time 50s rock and roll and country, kinda rockabilly ish a la THE STRAY CATS, and without a doubt, he owned the stage from start to finish. The crowd loved it and I am convinced that Drake will return to Europe in the near future and eventually becomes a big star, because he has that certain X factor that is needed to make it big. His music is also very catchy and memorable in a way that it has this old rock and roll/country soul approach which we don’t hear much nowadays.

REDFERRIN had the weirdest hair of the whole event, and although it wasn’t bad at all, I went on to check out RITA WILSON, who was performing at the same time as REDFERRIN. She is a popular singer/songwriter/producer/actress in the USA and has so far released 5 albums, which also includes a duets album where she did duets with legendary singer/songwriters like JACKSON BROWNE, ELVIS COSTELLO and KEITH URBAN and such. Rita herself has a great voice and her story-telling Americana songs are a pleasure to listen to. After a while she suddenly says that she wants to do a rapsong and although it isn’t a bad thing to think out of the box, it wasn’t necessary to do this during this short show at a country festival, so it got people moving eventually, especially considering the fact that the following artist on the main stage was set to become the highlight of the whole festival!

JACKSON DEAN was one of the singer/songwriters/multi-instrumentalists I was looking forward to the most, because his voice is incredible, and his music is raw outlaw country-rock crossed with a touch of southern rock, yet with a catchy melodic hook and chorus in each and every song. He is the youngest country musician to score a number 1 hitsingle, so I guess you can say that he’s got all it takes to become really huge in the future. Tonight he and his band (the lead guitarist was sensational in a RITCHIE BLACKMORE style!) were on fire and bringing down a real rock and roll show to town. It rocked quite hard from time to time, reaching easily the strength of a southern (hard) rockband like ROBERT JON & THE WRECK or LYNYRD SKYNYRD. The fact that he has just delivered his solo debut album is quite surprising, because he looks and sounds as if he has been in the music business for over a number of years already. His voice is one-of-a-kind, and of course CHRIS STAPLETON comes to mind here and there, but JACKSON DEAN rocks harder. Concluded, a big voice surrounded in a country southern rocking setting is what we got to see and hear, and I can easily say that he was in the top 3 of best acts of the C2C festival!

DYLAN SCHNEIDER is another newcomer and he showed that with his strong voice and stage performance he has got all it takes to become a superstar. Sadly I couldn’t watch the whole show, because at the same time another very interesting act was performing on the second stage. LAKEVIEW is a superb acoustic guitar duo of 2 guys that can truly sing and harmonize their voices just perfectly. They look like a bunch of punkpop guys, but their music is super melodic acoustic guitar driven Westcoast pop/rock and they remind me a lot of NELSON. I wonder if they plug in their guitars and get a band backing them up, because then they might sound even better and get ready to rock on a main stage!

LAUREN ALAINE has been around for a slightly longer time now, but personally I had never heard of her, so this was my first introduction. Her music is just like ALANA SPRINGSTEEN more moving into a melodic poprock direction with a tiny Country influence, and once again the guitarist did some great stuff here, He did a cool Enter Sandman meets Pretty Woman guitar riff as intro to one of Lauren’s songs, and all throughout the show he did some excellent guitarwork as if he was playing in a hardrockband! Lauren herself is a singer with a raw tone in her voice, and she looks and sounds a bit like BONNIE TYLER. Her stage performance is also top-notch, because she makes the much-needed connection with the audience, and despite country might not be present all the time here, the show was a nice pop/rock live performance with as highlight her song Road Less Traveled, which got the audience singing along. Her cover of Fat Bottomed Girls was the least interesting song, and I have to admit that Lauren was not the strongest singer on the bill, while also her songs were not that spectacular, but on the other hand she got the crowd enjoying her performance and that’s the most important thing.

It was a bit less crowded than on Saturday, so grabbing something to eat was easier, although I would advise for a future festival in the Ahoy venue that the food area should be a bit more spread over the inside and outside area, so people can easier get their food, but most importantly more places to sit down should be arranged, because eventually now people started to sit on the floor because there was no other possibility! Anyway, after a quick snack I moved on to see ALEXANDRA KAY, a female singer who was performing here in an acoustic duo setting. Her studio album is clearly more into a melodic rock direction (check out her lovely song Easy for example), while this evening it was a calmer show where Alexandra sang in a pure country style, and she definitely does this very well. However, I look forward to a full blown rockband show of this talented singer, so hopefully that will happen a next time.

STEPHEN WILSON JR is a singer/songwriter with an alternative Americana rocking sound that fits somewhere between BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, NEIL YOUNG, THE NATIONAL, THE WAR ON DRUGS and TOM PETTY, and he definitely got the attention of the audience due to this tough uptempo heartland rocking sound that had its highlight during the catchy Year to Be Young 1994. No overlaps this time, so everybody could watch Stephen’s full 30 minutes set and then move on to the main stage to see the headliner of Day 2, which was OLD DOMINION.  

OLD DOMINION is one of the major country rockbands in the USA right now, although their music is much more than just country music, because they melt it with all kinds of other musicgenres, such as rock, soul, reggae and Westcoast, which are harmonized perfectly, and it is quite clear that they are the most professional band of the festival. They are one of those bands that has a full set of potential hit songs, and even in Europe they could easily become a big Arena Rockband. The harmonyvocals are crystal clear and these are 5 fantastic musicians performing an incredible show that from start to finish had everyone in their pocket! They threw in a lot of fun as well, so it was one big happy fun rock and roll show, and although they follow a bit the rules of the country-poprockbands of the past such as POCO, RESTLESS HEART, BLACKHAWK, BOULDER (remember them???), etc., OLD DOMINION definitely does it in a modern way, because they sound like a band from the current modern era with a retro vibe, including the aforementioned influences of other music genres. This is a band that consists of musicians whom have written songs for big country acts in the past 10-15 years, but eventually they joined forces and started a band on their own, and especially in the USA they are a major band. One of their songs even had me thinking of HUEY LEWIS & THE NEWS (Midnight Mess Around), especially due to the lead singer’s Huey kind tone in his voice! Anyway, thanks to this performance at C2C, OLD DOMINION are definitely entering a new territory, and I am quite sure they are able to secure an even bigger audience next time they come over. This was one of those nights where this band couldn’t do anything wrong, because from start to finish this was a champions league performance. It was the perfect ending of a fantastic 2-day festival, which hopefully will return at the same venue next year…

More info on the event can be found at:

(Points: 9.2 out of 10)


Saturday 24th of February 2024 – Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam, The Netherlands



It was a rather cold Saturday afternoon when I took the train to the Ziggo Dome venue in Amsterdam where I was about to see an upcoming band (BAD NERVES) and a band that has rapidly exploded on the scene in the past few years, because NOTHING BUT THIEVES from the UK gave two 17,000 packed shows this weekend in Amsterdam! Considering the fact that only 8 years ago they played a small town club such as Rotown, they have quickly grown into a stadium act.

Anyway, it was the support act BAD NERVES from Essex, UK that led me to visit this show after all, because this powerpop/sleazy rock and roll/punk act drew my attention a few months ago at the LEFT OF THE DIAL festival where they were a headliner act. This bunch of energetic guys delivered a fantastic kick-ass in your face fast uptempo no-nonsense rock and roll show that fits somewhere between THE DAMNED, DEAD BOYS, NEW YORK DOLLS and of course THE RAMONES. However, they could also develop themselves into a sorta CRASH DIET, HARDCORE SUPERSTAR, HELLACOPTERS, TURBONEGRO, L.A. GUNS, GUNS’N’ROSES kinda act in the future, but for now they are a band that just throws in a lot of fast young dynamic energy in a way one would expect in a small town CBGB alike club and not so much the huge Ziggo Dome. THE RAMONES never played such halls either in their heyday, at least not that I am aware of in The Netherlands. Anyway, BAD NERVES are loud, nasty, brutal, authentic and keen on fast but also catchy tunes with memorable hooks and singable choruses (Radio Punk and Can't Be Mine are clearly instant hits that stick in your memory), which perhaps in the future will get more people dancing and singing along, because for now only the people up front were banging their heads and enjoying the gig the most, in contract to a lot of die-hard fans of NOTHING BUT THIEVES, whom were anxiously waiting when the support-act would finish up their sadly small set. BAD NERVES did more then 200% their best and according me, and they succeeded in getting the attention of a portion of the audience, because this is powerpop-garage-punk-sleaze-rock and roll at it’s very best!

In-between, and also before the 2 live shows this evening there were some great 80s (and a few more recent) classic tunes to be heard, such as RICK SPRINGFIELD’s Jessie’s Girl, CUTTING CREW’s Died In Your Arms and KENNY LOGGINS’ Danger Zone, 3 absolute classic AOR/Melodic Rock tunes, so the mood and vibe was really good when suddenly a radio station was turned on and blasting out of the speakers of the Ziggo Dome. It was the beginning of the introduction to NOTHING BUT THIEVES, because their new album is called Dead Club Radio, which is a fictional typical US radio station with all the ingredients of an actual local US radio station, so it includes commercials, presentation, radiotune and music of course. These radio sounds obviously were the intro to the upcoming concert of the band, and when ABBA’s Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! started playing, everyone in the venue sang along to this legendary tune. Suddenly the lights went out and NOTHING BUT THIEVES kicked off the show with the opening song of their new album, Welcome to the DCC. It was clear that the band owned the stage and venue right from the start, because there were moments during the set I was thinking to myself that even this place was too small, and NOTHING BUT THIEVES seems ready for the big stadiums now. Their music is a smart mix of all kinds of genres and influences, because you might call them a mix between MUSE and QUEEN at first sight, with also some heavy QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE guitar riffs here and there, high pitched vocals of singer CONOR MASON that recall both prog bands like LEPROUS, HAKEN as well as even THE BEE GEES, while the funky synth driven parts reflect their love for the 80s and in particular PRINCE (also vocally by the way!), and the progrock elements are also present instrumentally speaking (80s hi-tech YES meets FROST). However, on the couple ballads during the show it’s like GEORGE MICHAEL (!) is fronting QUEEN, especially during their most well-known songs Lover, Please Stay and of course Impossible, which by the way was so loudly sung-a-long that I barely could hear the band! Same goes likewise for the uptempo THE KILLERS alike melodic poprock anthems Amsterdam and Overcome, which both closed the night at an incredible high extase, because with such fun tunes at the end of the set it is a fantastic climax and ending to this superb uplifting energetic show of a band that are up there straight into the champions league of live performances.

NOTHING BUT THIEVES absolutely delivered a sensational diverse set that combines the best of a lot of worlds, so they are definitely not just another rockband. THE KILLERS, QUEEN and MUSE are the obvious comparisons, but during the show at the Ziggo they proved they are capable of delivering their own brand of music and mixture of styles as well. Their fans are loving it, despite the fact that the sound quality was not always picture perfect. Nevertheless, 100 minutes of high quality live music passed by rather quickly and people wanted more and more, because the band was on fire all the time, even during the power rock ballads. The set was a nice 21 songs counting compilation of songs from each album they delivered in the past 8 years. This show is what a good live authentic show needs to be, which is a great rocking band that truly loves their audience (especially in Amsterdam, which is their 2nd home!) and the roof went off from start to finish, so this was one of those concerts people will rave on and on about in the future.

The band itself has now 4 albums out I believe, and I might easily say that they are soon a stadium rockact that will blast away their counterparts of MUSE, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, THE KILLERS, U2, COLDPLAY, FOO FIGHTERS, etc. etc. if they continue to deliver the goods on new material as well. The big surprise for me is their diversity, which I already mentioned before, because besides the fact they rock pretty hard here and there, they somehow throw in these smart pop elements during the catchy hooks and memorable choruses of most of the songs, but also don’t forget to mix up heavy guitar riffs, funky 80s synths and experimental progressive rock meets krautrock elements during the instrumental breaks.

Concluded, a great show of one of the biggest new rockbands on earth, and hopefully also support-act BAD NERVES will get their own following, because these guys also have the potential to become bigger, especially if you are aware that NOTHING BUT THIEVES were also a support act for many big bands not that long ago. Fingers crossed for BAD NERVES, and as for NOTHING BUT THIEVES, check them out as soon as you can, because in the next 10 years they will become the biggest new young stadium rockband on the planet, especially due to the fact that all the older bands will be gone in the near future. Amsterdam brought once again some great new memories for a lot of people, and with a working week ahead of us for most of the visitors, it was an enjoyable gig that was all worth it making the trip!


Intro: Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) (Abba song)

1.         Welcome to the DCC

2.         Is Everybody Going Crazy?

3.         Tomorrow Is Closed

4.         Broken Machine

5.         Real Love Song

6.         You Know Me Too Well

7.         City Haunts

8.         I Was Just a Kid

9.         Sorry

10.       Do You Love Me Yet?

11.       Ce n'est Rien / Gods / Number 13 (Instrumental)

12.       Unperson

13.       Phobia

14.       Lover, Please Stay

15.       Trip Switch

16.       Futureproof

17.       Impossible

18.       Pop the Balloon


19.       Oh No :: He Said What?

20.       Amsterdam

21.       Overcome 

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)

SIMPLE PLAN - Live gig review

Monday 5th of February 2024 – 013, Tilburg, The Netherlands





It was a normal Monday evening at the start of a new working week when I went to the city of Tilburg in order to attend a full blown mini-festival that was all about Poppunk. I already had a few days in a row of concerts that went from IAN PAICE (founder of DEEP PURPLE) & PURPENDICULAR on Friday, THE LUKA STATE on Saturday and a few smaller concerts of local acts in my hometown, so I was quite warmed up before the show of SIMPLE PLAN and it’s support acts. In the past concerts were usually only during the weekend, but nowadays concerts are almost every night throughout the country and so I took a train to the lovely venue of 013 where the legendary Canadian band SIMPLE PLAN gave a 3,000 capacity sold out-show. However before they came on stage there were 3 support acts that evening, so all together this felt like a mini-festival of classic 90s/00s Poppunk that lasted for almost 4 hours.

I missed the first act AIR YEL due to the fact that I had to work elsewhere during the day, so I couldn’t make it earlier than 7 o’clock and that’s when AIR YEL performed their live gig. When entering the stage a band called MAYDAY PARADE started playing and I have to say they definitely got the crowd going right from the start. It was clear that this was going to be a great night of live music in one of the finest venues in The Netherlands. The enthusiastic crowd sang along to some of the tunes and MAYDAY PARADE were actually quite good, although vocally it was not that strong. Nevertheless, they had some very catchy tunes in the classic 90s Poppunk style, a great guitarplayer and as already mentioned a super enthusiastic crowd, so this combination made it definitely worth it watching their 40 minutes set.

Up next was another band I was not familiar with, STATE CHAMPS, and I have to admit that they were another great band that got the crowd once again jumping up and down. STATE CHAMPS were better than MAYDAY PARADE, because their Poppunk was more diverse and had elements of other rock genres. The band’s singer DEREK DISCANIO has a great voice, danced and jumped around all over the stage, and the whole gig of 40 minutes passed by very quickly. These guys were listed as a support act, but it feels like they are easily able to do a full blown gig on their own. The crowd went wild, and quite a few people came especially for STATE CHAMPS, so it was no surprise there were crowdsurfers popping up here and there. Without a doubt, you could smell and feel that something magical was happening here with so much great live music going on in the 013 temple.

Between the bands there was about 20 minutes of music being played over the speakers, and obviously these were mostly classic Poppunk tunes of bands like THE OFFSPRING, PAPA ROACH, GOOD CHARLOTTE, GREENDAY, etc. etc., and the crowd was certainly enjoying hearing those songs so loud and proud in the venue, because they were all sung-along by each and everyone in 013. Meanwhile it seemed like even more people turned up when things started to get closer to the moment the headliner SIMPLE PLAN was about to start their gig, because every square meter of the venue was filled by people. There was little space to move yourself and the venue felt cramped, but it was all worth it, because suddenly at 9 o clock sharp the Star Wars themesong started playing, and the whole venue exploded when the Canadian legends of SIMPLE PLAN started playing their first song I’d Do Anything. Frontman PIERRE BOUVIER (who is a close friend of my favorite AOR/Melodic Rockband HAREM SCAREM’s frontman HARRY HESS, who helped the band in the past by the way..) is a champions league frontman who owns the stage and the whole crowd was in trance and singing-along right from the start.

There was no single weak moment during the 100 minutes that SIMPLE PLAN was on the stage, and despite the band is known as a real Poppunk band, especially during cheerful tunes such as Jump, Shut Up!, Your Love Is a Lie and such, they also have songs that could be classified as pure Melodic Rock (HAREM SCAREM fans will understand what I mean) and also sorta FOO FIGHTERS kinda rock and roll moments. A song like Addicted even has a chorus that almost reminds me of DEF LEPPARD (!), so you can smell melodic rock and rock and roll influences during their songs, yet they are all being brought in a polished punk/rock and roll version or SIMPLE PLANized so to speak. Sometimes the band also sounds like a rocking Popband, but it doesn’t actually matter what you call these legendary Canadian rockers, because everything they do this evening is magic and striking gold with the crowd. Welcome to My Life is of their biggest hits and therefore a real crowd sing-a-long tune. Nobody leaves the venue and everyone keeps singing along to the happy cheerful music of SIMPLE PLAN, and there are a lot of funny moments during the set, such as a guy running around in a Scooby Doo suit (What’s New Scooby Doo?), big beach balls being passed on into the crowd (Summer Paradise), confetti all over the venue a few times and all kinds of special lightning and visual effects (such as during Astranaut).

The crowd goes wild when the band leaves the stage, but of course they return for an encore of a lot of extra songs, which includes Where I Belong where singers of the support acts also come back on stage to sing as well and how about a great cover mashup of classic popular tunes like All Star, Sk8er Boi and Mr. Brightside that are all sung-a-long by the crowd as loud as possible. Although the show ends very calmly in an acoustic setting of the song Perfect, it was a wonderful Poppunk evening that showed that SIMPLE PLAN is a champions league act that will last for a long time in the future!

3,000+ people went home in a happy mood, and they probably all had a great sleep afterwards before the alarm clock would wake them up early next morning to another normal working day, yet with a lasting memory of great live music and that’s what life is all about, even on a Monday evening…

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)

KAMELOT, EPICA and KOTIPELTO - Boerderij, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands - 5th of April 2005

I was really looking forward to this package, because it presents the best ‘new’ music of the last couple of years. Kamelot being the best band of the US, Epica is at the moment the most promising band in the Netherlands and Kotipelto is of course the singer of Stratovarius which is one of the most influential bands of the nineties. Three years ago Kamelot should play the Boerderij, but they had to cancel because of a throat infection from Roy Khan. In 2003 we traveled to Paris to see them live with Sonata Arctica and they blew me away with an one hour gig. Tonight would be the last gig of the package, so it could be a very special night. At 19.45h Kotipelto and his solo band entered the stage. A few months ago it looked like this was his new band, but after Timo Tolkki has made it up with his band members, I think it will be a project. Kotipelto gave away a good performance with songs of his both solo albums and ended the show with the Stratovarius songs “Hunting high and low” and “Black Diamond”: A very cool thing was that during a bass solo our national hymn was played. After a short break Epica came on stage. You could clearly see there were a lot of people coming mostly for them. I’ve listened a couple of times to their debut album, but I must say that Simone is live even better then on CD. Epica had the best sound of the day, what is really strange mostly the headliner got the best sound. Their set was a mix of new songs and songs from the upcoming album. “Crying for the moon” their most popular song closed their performance. A few minutes past ten the intro of ‘the fourth legacy” blasted through the P.A. followed by ‘Until kingdom come’. The supporting acts had a good sound, but with Kamelot the bass was too loud. The first couple of songs you couldn’t really hear Roy Khan sing. Later on you could hear the voice better, but on the faster songs the bass tone was still overshadowing the songs. Nevertheless Kamelot played a great show, the band sounded the best (in particular Roy) on the slower songs like ‘Nights of Arabia”, “The haunting” with Mark Jansen (including the wig) instead of Simone singing the female parts and the ballads “Wander”, “Don’t you cry”. On this last song Roy stood on the bar in the back venue. Besides the sound there was another little critical point if I heard it good the backing vocals were running from tapes. After all it was great evening with three very good acts.

Artist		Music performance	Sound quality	Audience reaction		Overall
Kotipelto		8			8		8			8
Epica			   8			  9		   8			8,3
Kamelot			9			6		9			8

BRYAN ADAMS - Ahoy, Rotterdam, The Netherlands - 28th of March 2005

BRYAN ADAMS visited Holland once again for another small tour, just for fun and it was like all his other concerts also fun for us, the audience, to go and watch, so in the end everyone was already having a good time, even before the show had started. It was sold out as one could notice when entering the hall, and after watching a pretty boring support act hailing from the UK, playing a typical British Post Modern Rockstyle a la RADIOHEAD, COLDPLAY and that sort of stuff, it was time for Bryan to hit the stage, and play a 2-hour set. The songchoice wasn't that different from most of his other recent visits to Europe, and so we were pleased with a mix of classic Bryan Adams rockers (as usual a lot of songs from the man's best release 'Reckless') and newer songs (from the recent 'Room service' album). Like always Bryan was making good contacts with the audience, with asking a girl to come on stage singing "When you're gone" and walking alongside the first rows, shaking hands during the song "The best of me" and from start to finish running around the stage like a madmen. It was good to see the man in action again. The line-up of his band was also different than the last time I saw Bryan in concert, when he had only 2 other musicians backing him up (guitars and drums). He played bass back then, but this time he played some rhythm guitar, although Keith Scott was playing most of the solo's. The arrangements of the songs however were sometimes quite different than the originals, such as "Summer of 69", where Bryan invited the audience to sing-a-long, but this was on each song the case... Eventually the audience sang almost ever song along, making it 'a night to remember'. Bryan's performance on stage is always perfect, the song choice could have been a bit rockier, but in general speaking everyone enjoyed another great BRYAN ADAMS concert, with no less than 4 encores, all performed by Bryan acoustic on his own in front of 10,000 people, not many people are able to do that!

Artist                                                         Music performance     Sound quality     Audience reaction     Overall

Supportact (name unknown!)                   6                                    7                            6                                6,3
Bryan Adams                                            9                                    9                            9                                9

HIGHWAY CHILE & ACES at Loose End, Reeuwijk, The Netherlands - 19th of March - 2005

It was three years ago when we saw HIGHWAY CHILE on their come back tour with Robert Soeterboek on vocals, now Stan Verbraak (HELLOISE) is doing the vocals. Of course Martin Mens and Ernst van EE (also HELLOISE) were also present again. But before we could see HIGHWAY CHILE, we had to survive the support act. The support act was a local metal band called ACES and it was one of the most boring acts I have ever saw with guitarists who couldn’t play any guitar solo’s, very simple songs and last but not least a singer who was even more worse than most Idols candidates. After a few songs I went to the back (thinking what I was doing here), where it was very crowdy (seems everybody had the same idea) to wait when it was over. After a forty minutes break the intro started and HIGHWAY CHILE came on stage. And after a few songs I totally forgot the support act and the waiting. They did most of the songs of “Storybook heroes” even the beautiful ballad “Endless trail” and two new songs (one is called “Poison”) which were very good and a lot heavier than the old stuff. During the concert they get tighter and better. Stan was really singing his balls off and Ernst even broke a snare drum (TRUE METAL). After the HIGHWAY CHILE songs it was time for some HELLOISE songs, especially “For a moment” sounded incredible. They ended the gig with some cover tunes (earlier they did “Detroit Rock City”) and the crowd went wild with “Black Tiger”, “Sin City” and “Cold sweat”. Now it is waiting for the new album.

Artist                     Music performance     Sound quality     Audience reaction     Overall

Aces                      3                                     3                         5                                    3.7
Highway Chile      9                                     8                         8                                    8.3

THE DONNAS & THE LULABELLIES - De Melkweg, Amsterdam, The Netherlands - 19th of February 2005

Arriving at the Melkweg we saw a large row standing for the ticket box. We didn’t knew that The Donnas were so popular in Holland. Happily we already had tickets and could easily go into the venue. The support act already started playing. The Lulabellies play fast punk rock with sometimes aggressive vocals from the female singer. They are hailing from our home town Rotterdam and their line up exists of a female singer (who also plays guitar) another female guitarist, a bass player and of course a drummer. They have released one CD and they played most of the songs from this CD. The Lulabellies gave away a good performance and didn’t have any stage fright for such a big audience (approximately 900). After 35 minutes they left the stage. It took 30 minutes to build on the stage before The Donnas came on under big applause from the audience. They opened with “On the rocks” from “Spend the night” and then went further with mostly all songs from the new album “Gold medal”. The fans reacted very good on the new songs and that was a surprise because the new one is very diverse to “Spend the night”. It was a pity that the sound of the bass was too loud, so it was harder to hear the voice and the guitar. (the bass was way too loud!). With one of their last and popular songs “Take it off” the crowd went wild, guys taking off their shirts and teenage girls stage diving(??). After just sixty minutes the concert was over, which was very short. The reason for this is that the drummer of the Donnas is still recovering of a hand injury. Hopefully next time a longer set list and a better sound. Points:

Artist		Music performance	Sound quality	Audience reaction		Overall
The Lulabellies	7			8		7			7.3
The Donnas	8			6		8			7.3

FOR ABSENT FRIENDS + RICOCHER + NICE BEAVER - September 22 - 2001 - Interval, Papendrecht

Although I have lived for a couple of years in Dordrecht (the city on the other side of the river 'De Merwede', only a few kilometres from the place in Papendrecht where I was going to see 3 top Dutch Progressive Rockbands at one evening), I never had actually been in Papendrecht. Happily, it was very easy to find the place called 'Interval' where FOR ABSENT FRIENDS was supposed to present their new CD, but as the evening developed it became clear that the new CD was at that same moment being printed somewhere else. So actually there was no new CD that they could sell, but they informed everyone to wait a while, because the delivery would take place the same evening. Of course around one o'clock after midnight people didn't want to wait any longer and left although FAF (For Absent Friends) played on, but after standing for 6 hours in a row, you're tired and want to rest, so I also left the place, although I need to say I would have loved to stay and watch the rest of the fantastic show.

More about that later on in this review, but fist I would like to take you back to the 29th of April 2001 when FOR ABSENT FRIENDS played a concert in Vianen, a small village close to Utrecht. It was a free admission concert, organised by some sort of dull motorclub. It was very hard finding the damn place, as it was hidden in the middle of nowhere, somewhere hidden behind an area of houses in a small park. When we (me and my brother) arrived, we both had to laugh, because it didn't look like the place you normally expect when you are visiting a concert. It was a damn shame only a few people were actually coming to see FAF. Anyway, FAF was already playing when we arrived, so we sat down and watched the excellent performance of the band. The show lasted about 2 hours, so definitely worth seeing. They played a nice collection of songs taken from their 6 albums put out so far. Highlights of the show were definitely "Into love", "Silly love song" (from their new CD, out now!) and closing track "Attitude". The sound wasn't too loud, partly due to some annoying women and children who told the organisers the music was too loud (for God's sake FAF normally sounds a lot heavier and then still sound very calm for a rockband!). FAF sometimes sounded like a nice melodic poprockband instead of a sympho AOR band, only because some of the lousy people who didn't even watched the show were complaining about noise!!! Anyway, putting everything aside, FAF still performed an excellent concert and I already knew I had to see them live again, but then with a 'real' audience instead of the 7 (!!!) people who made up the audience of this FAF concert.

And indeed on the 22nd of September in the city of Papendrecht, FOR ABSENT FRIENDS would be presenting their new CD. The whole event turned out to be a 'Sympho' festival, because also other Dutch Progressive/ Symphonic Rockbands RICOCHER and NICE BEAVER would perform that night, as well as of course FOR ABSENT FRIENDS who headlined the show. First up was the local band NICE BEAVER. This hot new band recently released a CD, which they presented a few months ago in the same club where this show took place, so they had already a lot of people supporting them on this beautiful evening. It turned out that the keyboardist of the band also was the singer of the band and he really was a funny guy. Between each song he made some nice jokes, while still musically the whole band in fact sounded very professional. Musically NICE BEAVER played typical 80s typed neo-prog with Sympho influences and of course a lot of influences from 80s MARILLION, but on the other hand, also influences from Hard Rock were shown, especially during the straight-ahead rocker "Could I be wrong, could I be right". This song is actually a part of the semi rockballad "Hope you don't mind", a song sung by guitarist Hans. The band played several songs of their CD, but also some newer songs, such as the progressive rocksong "Lima". The best songs however were kept till the very end. These are "Where the river runs" (fantastic uptempo chorus, easy to sing-a-long and even reminding me of PRISM!) and final track "Meet me in London". By far, this last track turned out to be the winner for everyone, as the crowd loved it, and it really is a fantastic uptempo Sympho rocker (a la 80s MARILLION's "Incommunicado" and ARENA's "Welcome to the cage") with a very catchy chorus. Later on I heard this song was an old demo track, but I believe the band is considering re-recording it for a future CD release. Anyway, I was very glad to have seen NICE BEAVER, because I had never heard of them and their set impressed me a lot!

Up next was RICOCHER, a great Sympho/Prog band from Brabant, whom I had already seen a few months earlier at the ARENA fanclubday. Back then they did a very good performance, and tonight they even did a better performance. They played about an hour, including the 4 songs of their CD 'Quest for the heartland' and a bunch of newly written songs, such as the AOR song "For you" (with the dut-dut keys), "The fugitive" and "The child inside" (with excellent keyboardwork a la PENDRAGON). The highlight was again "Your pride", a very cheerful uptempo progressive AOR rocker a la ARENA. On all other shows the crowd goes wild when this song is played and also in Papendrecht it was the favourite of the audience. With RICOCHER, we have another great Progressive Rockband from Holland, but the best was yet to come.

Although on the tickets was mentioned that FAF would play around 9.30, it turned out to be one hour later. Partly due to the fact the previous bands already started playing 30-45 minutes later, but also the fact that the CDs were not ready yet, but were supposed to be delivered the same evening. So FAF decided to start later and even had a 25-minute-break after 1 hour! Nevertheless, the performance they did was superb. Singer Hans van Lint has a wonderful voice and guitarist Edwin Roes is an outstanding player who really shines during the guitarsolos. Having said that, the songs are all great very melodic Sympho AOR songs. It surprises me how close FAF is to purest AOR, because none of their songs are that Prog orientated like the 2 other bands of the evening. FAF is definitely more like an AOR band than any other band in the Sympho/Prog scene. Having said that, the highlights of the show were "Into love", "Attitude" and the songs of the new CD, such as "The one", "Giving up", "The big room", "Silly lovesong" and "If love". During "If love" old keyboardplayer Peter De Jong climbed the stage and played keyboards on this song. It turned out to be a farewell song for him, because after playing with FAF for 15 years, he decided to leave the band. The song itself was a beautiful AOR ballad a la SURVIVOR, JOURNEY, and I must say that singer Hans did a terrific job on this tune, as his voice made this song one of the highlights of the show, it just couldn't sound better. Hans really proved to be one of the best vocalists in Holland! There wasn't a single weak moment during the entire FAF show. Everything just sounded perfect, much better than in Vianen a few months ago.

Like I already said earlier in this review, the only problem was the fact that the CD presentation of FAF turned out to be a disaster, because there was no CD! Around 1 o'clock after midnight, the CDs still had not arrived, so I decided to leave, because the whole event started 6/7 hours before and after such a long time you're getting tired. The last song FAF played was "Attitude", but they said they would return on stage about 10-15 minutes later to entertain the audience, while waiting for the CDs to arrive. I don't know if that actually happened, because I and a lot of other folks decided to leave the place as it were getting very late. Anyway, the day after I heard the CD did arrive half an hour later, but it turned out to be that it wasn't a CD with music on it, but a CD with data info, so everyone had waited for nothing! But who cares, because eventually we will all buy the new FAF CD, as their excellent performance of that evening is unforgettable. In January the band will perform some more concerts and I will definitely be present at one of their shows again (for the third time in one year!).

(Points For Absent Friends: 9 out of 10 - Points Ricocher: 8.5 out of 10 - Points Nice Beaver: 8 out of 10)

THRESHOLD + ARK - 16th of September 2001 - De Boerderij, Zoetermeer

Right after the summerbreak, this would be the first concert the Strutter'zine camp would pay a visit. And although both bands were announced as the top in progressive metal, opening act ARK was definitely a very disappointing support act. First of all, the music of ARK was a mix of Techno-Progressive Metal and Industrial Metal and secondly, their lead singer JORN LANDE was singing very badly. I was not impressed with the 2 ARK CDs and live it even sounded terrible. Jorn can sing very well, like he has proved on the CDs of MALMSTEEN, MILLENIUM and his solo albums, but on the ARK CDs and at this concert he was killing his voice. He was more screaming a la MACHINE HEAD, than singing melodic vocal lines. So after a few songs, I left the place and got myself into the bar outside, just sit and enjoy some nice background music by the likes of THE FLOWER KINGS and PALLAS while waiting for the headliner THRESHOLD.

Around 10 o'clock the UK Progressive Metal band THRESHOLD started to play and rightaway you felt one with the band, as their music is very appealing to fans of all genres within the progressive world. The guitars are heavy, but the vocals and chorus are super melodic. After a few songs, I suddenly realised that the lead singer (Mac) used to be in the band SARGANT FURY (fantastic German Melodic Hard Rockband a la BONFIRE), so therefore this band sounds so melodic perhaps. Anyway, their set was made up of songs taken from their 5 studio CDs they released so far. They played a lot of songs from their latest release 'Hypothetical', with as highlights the fantastic songs "Turn on tune in", "Light and space", "Long way home" and "The ravages of time". This last mentioned track was the definite highlight of the whole show, because also the crowd were singing along the words "I can tell the world", very impressive tune! Well, the band played a perfect show, and if they ever come again to town, then I'll be there to see them once more, because THRESHOLD has proved to be one of the best in the Progressive Metal scene, while ARK was a big disappointment!

(Points Threshold: 9 out of 10 - Points Ark: 5 out of 10)

ARENA + RICOCHER - 3rd of June 2001 - Tivoli, Utrecht

The English neo-prog band ARENA is one of the most popular Progressive Rockbands in Holland and therefore the second fan meeting day was organised in Holland, to be precise, in the city of Utrecht. Tivoli may not look like the place where a big meeting could be organised, but when I entered the hall where the meeting was it didn't look that bad, actually it looked very friendly. The event would last almost the whole day, but I actually came to see the live performance of ARENA. Support act of ARENA was the Dutch prog band RICOCHER, a very nice band of whom I recently reviewed their debut CD 'Quest for the heartland'. The band played a very nice set of tunes, with as favourite song the uptempo "Your pride" that got a great response from the crowd. RICOCHER is a very good band and in the future they may headline somewhere, because their neo-prog rock sounds very impressive.

I just bought a bunch of CDs (like at every prog concert), when suddenly headliner ARENA started to play. Well, actually it wasn't the official start of the concert, because it was just keyboardplayer Clive Nolan and drummer Mick Pointer playing a few acoustic/keyboard orientated tunes as a short preview for the coming ARENA concert. Then the crowd was warmed up to see the real thing: ARENA! The band started with the opening tune ("Chosen") of their latest CD 'Immortal". A very good way to start the evening, because this song is damn fine midtempo progressive rocker with a catchy singable chorus. What followed was a great set of tunes of all the ARENA albums, and the best was kept until the very end with the ARENA classic "Welcome to the cage", a crowd favourite, uptempo progressive rock with a very catchy chorus and a big keyboardsound. And so came an end to a perfect night of neo-progressive rock, a big thanks to ARENA for proving to be one of the best bands in the neo-prog scene!

(Points Arena: 9 out of 10 - Points Ricocher: 8 out of 10)

URIAH HEEP - 8th of May 2001 - 013, Tilburg

Just a few weeks after the HENSLEY/LAWTON BAND concert, 2 former HEEP members, the all-original URIAH HEEP performed a concert in the south of Holland. There was no support-act, so I thought it would turn out to be an easy livin 'Uriah Heep' night. 013 in Tilburg is a big venue, and although the show wasn't sold out, I counted about 1,100 people who came to see these old rockers. And although most of the members were indeed quite old of age, they still knew how to rock! All the URIAH HEEP classics were played, such as the very heavy "Look at yourself", "Easy livin", "July morning" and "Gypsy". Surprisingly also a lot of songs from their last studio-CD were played, and as you might know this album was a good AOR/Melodic Rock orientated record. I really enjoyed the songs played from 'Sonic origami', namely "Only the young", "Between two worlds", "I hear voices" and "Heartless land".

The final track (the 2nd encore!) HEEP played was probably the highlight of the show, as this was the all-time sing-a-long HEEP classic "Lady in black" with a drop out in the middle of the song where 1,110 people sang 'na na na na na na etc.' with each other. After a 10-minute version of this song, HEEP said goodbye and so this excellent show was ended, but definitely be continued, because late December they will again perform a concert here in Holland and you can definitely read a review of that concert in our next issue. The HEEP concert was great, but unfortunately on our way back home we saw a big fire ahead of us on the road, so we stopped and although it looked like a small fire, after 20 minutes it started to spread and we had to drive back. Happily we didn't suffer from the fire that much, because an hour later we were on our way back home safely via a different route.

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)

LANA LANA + TOYZ - 27th of April 2001 - De Boerderij, Zoetermeer

One week after the HENSLEY/LAWTON BAND, in the same venue I found myself enjoying the likes of LANA LANE and ERIC NORLANDER, who together performed a superb concert. Support act was a local band called TOYZ, well gee this was kind of weird band. They started their set with a few nice progressive metal instrumentals. Then suddenly some girl got on stage and started to sing with the band, these songs somehow reminded me of a cross between LITA FORD and LEE AARON, but without calling it impressive, because the songmaterial definitely lacks with this band. Towards the end of the set, TOYZ started to look like a band whose members wanted to show off each other, because the blond girl wanted everyone to look at her, while the guitarist at the same time was very busy with sounding like MALMSTEEN (which he did NOT!) and turned out to be a poser stepped out of POISON! The TOYZ performance was quite hilarious, not bad or anything, but a bit too diverse and also very hard to follow, because at one point you were asking yourself if this band should be taken seriously!

Anyway, we all came to see LANA LANE, and when ERIC NORLANDER started to play on one of his keyboards (a big wall of keyboards and synthesisers surrounded him), the 300 people who showed up were already impressed. What followed was an impressive performance with songs from LANA LANE's albums, ROCKET SCIENTISTS and ERIC NORLANDER's solo-albums. Highlights of the show were "Through the rain" (a song from Lana's debut, but this version really blow away the old one), "Escher's staircase", the MARILLION cover "Season's end", "Love is an illusion" (another one from her debut) and "Symphony of angels". The Prog fans must have also enjoyed this concert, because Eric Norlander did some excellent stuff in his keyboardhouse. I can not come up with any negative points, because this LANA LANE concert was just perfect and if they come to Holland again, I will certainly be present.

(Points Lana Lane: 9.0 out of 10 - Points Toyz: 7 out of 10)

HENSLEY/LAWTON BAND + JAN RIJBROEK BAND - 19th of April 2001 - De Boerderij, Zoetermeer

Former URIAH HEEP members KEN HENSLEY (keyboards) and JOHN LAWTON (vocals) came together a few years ago and decided to start a new rockband, the HENSLEY/LAWTON BAND. Of course they played a lot of the 70s URIAH HEEP classics of the days when they were also part of the band, but also songs of Ken and John's solo-albums are played at the concerts. One of their concerts took place in the city of Zoetermeer in April 2001. Around the same time, the first CD, a live one, would be released through EAGLE RECORDS. Most of the songs of that live CD were also played at that evening. Before HENSLEY/LAWTON BAND entered the stage, we had to listen to an average support act called JAN RIJBROEK BAND. This band formed around guitarist Jan Rijbroek is a local favourite, but musically the Bluesy Melodic Hard Rock with some slight WHITESNAKE references, didn't do that much for me and other HEEP fans.

Everyone (about 250 people) came to see the HENSLEY/LAWTON BAND and although the show started very late (around 11 o'clock), the 2-hour show was very good. Lawton sang at the top of his lungs, while Hensley became a Keyboard/Hammond-God towards the end of the show. Most of the songs were the well-known HEEP classics, such as "Easy livin'" (crowd favourite), "Free me" (big German hitsingle, simple but effective sing-a-long rocker), "July morning", "Gypsy", "I'm alive", "Lady in black" and "The wizard". But the surprises for me were also the songs of Ken and John's solo-albums, such as "It's up to you" (lovely uptempo melodic rocker with lovely harmonyvocals), "Guard your heart" (lovely AOR ballad) and "Tonight" (another lovely ballad). I also need to mention the fantastic version of the Heep Classic "Wise man".

All HEEP fans returned home with a good feeling and probably bought the live record of HENSLEY/LAWTON BAND that was released a few days later. Unfortunately it was also the last record the two former HEEP members would make together, because a few weeks after their excellent performances here in Holland, they decided to split up and go their own ways. So, I guess you can say that this was a very unique concert, and back then it was also a good warming-up for the coming URIAH HEEP concert a few weeks later (see review below).

(Points Hensley/Lawton Band: 8.5 out of 10 - Points Jan Rijbroek Band: 6.5 out of 10)

LABYRINTH - 10th of April 2001 - 013, Tilburg

In the eighties all the good metal bands were coming from England, United States and maybe Germany. But this changed in the late nineties, being influenced by Progressive Metal (Dream Theater), Power Metal (Helloween, Blind Guardian), Classical and medieval music, there came a whole new Metal scene from Italy. The leading bands are Rhapsody and Labyrinth. While Rhapsody gets a lot attention from the Metal press and fans, Labyrinth has to do with much lesser. That was also shown before tonight's show: no promotion, no merchandising and even a cancelled support act. So it was not a surprise that only about a hundred people showed up. But I was very curious to see this act, because for me their album from 1998 "Return to heaven denied" is at the top of the list for best albums of the nineties. I have to add that they were playing in the little hall of 013 (Capacity for 350 people).

When the intro started of "Chapter one", everyone was getting close to the stage. Labyrinth has a very good and charismatic singer, who stirred up the public. The rest of the band (five in total) could hardly move because of the small size of the stage. After their first song they played "Kathryn", followed by a favourite from the wild acting audience called "Moonlight". They played, without any break, seventeen songs in a row. Two from their first album "No limits", eight from the second "Return to heaven denied" and seven from their last album "Sons of thunder". My personal favourites that evening were "Lady lost in time", "New horizons" and "Save me". I hope this fantastic band, with their Proggy Power Metal, will return to Holland again in the near future, but then for a much bigger audience.

(Points: 9.0 out of 10)