The musicians of the Dutch progressive rock act Leap Day are the guys behind the Northern Prog Festival-a festival held since 2013 (see review) at De Uthof in Siegerswoude, a small town in the Northern part of the Netherlands. The band themselves of course perform at this festival as well. This also happened during the third edition of NPF (see review) in 2015. The audio of this concert was recorded for a possible live album. Exactly one year later they presented the result of those recordings at the next NPF in 2016 (see review). They named it Live At The Northern Prog Festival. I guess this is a title which doesn't come as a surprise!
The band's concert at the time was for me one of the best performances I had witnessed from them ever. Several times the musicians made me speechless with the musicianship they showed on stage which wasn't expected at all because they only had done two rehearsals in the days leading up to the festival. This was not the perfect way to get in shape for a concert that would be released on CD later on. Well of course I was curious if they could capture the true spirit of this amazing concert one year ago.
While looking at the titles that made it to the track list on the album, it became obvious that not the entire concert could be heard on this release. Keyboard player Gert van Engelenburg told me that during the process of mixing the album it became clear not everything that was recorded could be used-something which of course happens to every band which tries to record one of their performances. In the end this lead to a total time of almost forty five minutes of progressive rock music. But what we did get finally, is rather representative for what the band is capable of on stage. You could call it a real showcase of what the band stands for: melodic prog music with lots of solos performed on the electric guitar by Eddie Mulder and synthesizer solos done by the duo Derk Evert Waalkens and the aforementioned Gert van Engelenburg backed up by an excellent rhythm section consisting of Peter Stel (bass) and Koen Roozen (drums and percussion). Above all they have an amazing front man who sings better and better after each concert. His name is Jos Harteveld!
As for the songs that can be heard, you could say they did come up with a selection of songs taken from all of their four studio albums. The opening tune The Messenger has of course a great intro with the sound of a bell and a voice speaking very seriously. Going through every track separately isn't really necessary. Just look at the track list and see if your favourite Leap Day tune is on it. If not, don't worry as there are just enough to satisfy your appetite. Listening to a live album you have been present at during the recordings of means you can compare it to the way the memory of it nestled inside your brain. Well I still did hear only brilliant compositions, played perfectly as it should have been! But I guess, everybody who has witnessed a concert can tell you that nothing can be compared to the real thing being present at the venue and looking at the musicians on the stage in front of you, going through all of the emotions while enjoying the amazing music you hear performed by the band in a real live atmosphere. Sure, their concert was very well captured the way it was done one year ago, but hardly any band can make it happen that you can relive that moment on CD or DVD. This was also not possible with Leap Day. It certainly didn't mean you can't enjoy this release. No way! I had throughout the entire live album a really good time listening to all seven fabulous compositions brought to you very closely resembling the original album versions. What else could you ask for?
To finish this review, I can advise all of our readers to have a listen to Live At The Northern Prog Festival released by Leap Day, most of all those who are into neo progressive rock and a band such as Camel who will have a blast! They will hear an unbelievably good live band and one of the best from the Netherlands! Highly recommended!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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