Went to see a concert you have visited? Well then do sent in your review to me. It will always be published, as long as it has to do with Rock'n'Roll of course!

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)