Opener on the second day of the festival, is TILT, the band of Steve Vantsis, best known as the bassist of Fish. The collective around Vantsis has just released a great new album in 2016, "Hinterland", involving, inter alia, Robin Boult, John Mitchell
and John Beck. The album gets excellent reviews, as a result therefore, expectations are high: can they live up to these expectations in a live performance. No surprise, the entire new album is the basis for the set list of TILT, including Answers from the
EP "Million Dollar Wound" dating from 2009.
The start of the gig leaves to be desired somewhat, the sound is not quite good, especially the vocals are mediocre. The band starts
with Assembly but only when No Superman is played the voice of singer Paul Dourley starts to come together. Strontium Burning, with a beautiful guitar solo at the end, and Bloodline with a melodic bass line work well in a live setting. Encore Disassembly is
just as impressive on the album. "Is there no God?" asks singer Dourley. The other songs are pretty ok in general, but nothing really sticks.
I honestly have some mixed feelings
about the performance. Unfortunately, the promise is not quite fulfilled, the whole was insufficient dividends. Does this mean that the CD has been overproduced? Sound samples, keyboards and even an acoustic guitar on tape? That’s not what we are used
to as a prog audience. The second disappointment concerns singer Dourley; I was very excited about this unknown singer from Scotland but it was not quite what it should be this time. This man has undeniable qualities, and the same goes for the company surrounding
him. As this is only the second live performance of the band, I'm inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. The music is interesting enough, maybe they should consider hiring a real keyboard player for live shows. John Young (Lifesigns) stood in the
wings and watched.
At about eight o'clock this evening’s second
act, Antimatter, start their performance. Once again, just like Saturday, we are behind schedule. I must admit that this band is not quite my cup of tea. While listening I regularly ask myself the question: is this still prog? Sure, here we have musically
literate men at work, no doubt about it. The music is intense but I felt little excited with many of the relatively short numbers. The amplitude, the melody is lacking somewhat. Some old school prog fans left prematurely, pure coincidence? Maybe it's a generational
thing, the band draws more people in their forties and fans of the more heavy genre, nothing wrong with that.
Antimatter has a band leader in Mick Moss, a singer/guitarist with
a Dave Grohl-like voice, a good guitar player in the person of Dave Hall, an unobtrusive bassist Ste Hughes and a long-haired head banging unknown drummer. They play an almost completely new set relative to recent performances, the acoustic shows aside. Lots
of material from their latest album "The Judas Table" from 2015, at the time well received by both press and public. Definitely not a bad show by Antimatter, especially the prog-metal part of the audience will be happy with this heavy guitar-oriented band.
Tiger Moth Tales
Tiger Moth Tales is essentially the brainchild of Nottingham based musician/composer
Peter Jones, who has been active in the music industry since the late 90’s. Jones (36) at the age of fifteen months, lost his sight due to Retinoblastoma which did not prevent him from learning to play the piano at an extremely young age of four. An
X-Factor participation in 2004, the release of "Cocoon" in 2014 and his joining of Camel in 2016, are just a few milestones in the relatively short history of this musical centipede.
Moth Tales appearance on stage starts half an hour later than scheduled, caused by technical problems with the set-up of bandleader Jones. The introduction of John Young, who spoke about the participation of Jones in the English version of X-Factor and the
importance of remaining faithful to your own music, is sincere.
The band kicks off, very appropriately, with Overture from success album "Cocoon", the source of most of the set-list.
Then the party really breaks loose with Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright with successive solos on saxophone, guitar and keyboards by Jones. With the latter two played simultaneously, not often shown before. The title to the song is not the only item with
a high Camel content, more on that later. The blind front man has a set of instruments that he must find by touch, the sax is in a container close by, the guitar lies transverse on top of his keyboard, surmounted by a microphone. And he can never be caught
making mistakes, extremely impressive. The Quest for Beauty, from "Storytellers" from 2015, is announced by him with a “to horse!". Indeed represented by a kind of cross country horse race, a bit similar to Camel’s Fox Hill. The comparison with
Andy Latimer also returns for City in the Stars, a song from his hobby band Red Bazar, with a guitar solo reminiscent of the illustrious duo Hackett/Latimer. The same goes for The First Lament, whereby, after a sax intro , a great Camel-like guitar solo appears,
unheard of. Three cheers for The Merry Vicar, I would almost call this Vaudeville prog, very humorous and clever.
A Visit to Chigwick, with its acoustic intro and musical references
to Big Big Train, is greeted with great applause by the fans. Typically English, with a giga keyboard solo at the end. Then for me personally the absolute highlight of the festival arrives: a duet with pianist Luca Zabbini from Barock Project during the new
song Alone. The two super talents together cause goosebumps. The song is part of the collaboration of these two musical geniuses on a couple of songs for the new Barock Project album, "Detachment", very much looking forward to its release. Closing track, Tigers
In The Butter, is accompanied by sound effects, quacking ducks and even a sitar. "We live our lives in fantasy” is a phrase from the lyrics, and that certainly applies to the music, as evidenced by the huge variety in tempo and theme. A great epic rock
song with sublime guitar solo at the end.
Jones is blessed with an excellent sense of humor, of the typical English high-level type, very different from Frost*’s, with all
due respect. His voice sounds occasionally a bit like Paul Carrack’s, melodic and soulful. Camel/Andy Latimer will very much enjoy working with this super talent, hopefully also in terms of composing. Has Latimer brought in the proverbial Trojan Horse
with Jones? It won’t be long until this man not only plays the keyboards but will effortlessly take on any passing guitar solo as well. Three cheers for the blind man.
Much later than announced, no surprise after earlier delays, finally band and frontman appear on the stage of the theater where, the previous night, he triumphed
by the side of Jem Godfrey with Frost*. John Mitchell appears in a bright orange NASA astronaut suit. They almost immediately kick off with the instrumental Airlock from the latest album, "Please Come Home" from 2015. After which consecutively God vs. Man
and the melodious The Boy in the Radio are played. In Floral Green, a song from the new album which is about to be released, is a beautiful slow song with a great guitar solo, typical of Mitchell.
Why Don’t We Stay? is left out of the setlist and personal favorite Oubliette is performed vocally only half for the same reason: there is no female voice present this time. Like during the concert in December 2015 in Zoetermeer with
the excellent bass player/singer (and rather delicious) Caroline Campbell. Construct/Obstruct, with a characteristic solo by Mitchell on his white Cort, followed by Are We Copies?. Humans Being is the much needed break after all the previous heavy stuff with
the beautiful, The Red Balloon, showered in red lights, to finish off the regular part of the set.
For the encore Mitchell returns to the stage, accompanied only by keyboardist
Holmes, to play an extremely beautiful version of Battlelines, an ode to "dear friend" John Wetton, not without emotion. The obligatory drum solo is as always just a bit different when Craig Blundell is behind the pots and pans, this time with a lot of electronic
sounds. Sigma is the smashing closer in front of a half-empty hall, unfortunately, although I heard from a reliable source that this was a specific choice of the artist.
was, as in 2015, accompanied by video images, this time on large screens on either side of the stage, a novelty. Mitchell was in moderate voice this evening, he seemed a bit distracted, staring into space while he played and sang his parts. Very little contact
with the fans, however noted that a slowly emptying room is not a very nice background. Mitchell wondered if maybe we were 'progged out' in response to the somewhat lukewarm response from the audience, might just have been the case. A great band, with previously
mentioned buddy Blundell and TILT bassist Vantsis, but also with an excellent keyboard player, Liam Holmes. This is the second time I saw Lonely Robot in action, the setlist was more or less equal to the first concert in 2015, which I personally prefered,
more inspired and intense. However, even on cruise control a pro like Mitchell delivers solid work. The new album, "The Big Dream", will be released soon, the new track at least arouses our curiosity.
Around midnight the performance came to an end and with it the sixth edition of the festival. In summary, we can say that this year, in some respects, was better than last year. Both in terms of programming and in terms of public interest,
especially on Saturday, was a strong improvement noticeable compared to edition five. The screens are a great service to the public and catering and drinks again were well looked after. For me personally Tiger Moth Tales was the highlight of the festival,
followed by Frost*, Barock Project and Huis. On to the seventh edition.
Text: Alex Driessen ©2017