Until 2008 Michel van Wassem (keyboards, vocals), Ronald Brautigam (guitars, vocals) and Tom van der Meulen (drums) were members of Plackband, also known as the Dutch Genesis. Listening to modern progressive rock bands like Frost* made them decide to explore other musical territories beyond the music of Genesis and related bands. By broadening their musical horizon the three musicians knew that they ran a certain risk. They also knew that they could no longer call themselves Plackband, because a lot of the new material had no relation to this band whatsoever. Therefore they called themselves PBII (Plackband 2).
In 2010 PBII released their first album Plastic Soup (see review) with the new bassist Harry den Hartog. This album contained a blend of the old Plackband sound with modern influences like the use of distorted guitar sounds and special keyboard and computer effects. However, Ronald Brautigam's melodic guitar playing and Michel van Wassem's majestic keyboard parts proved that they still fancy Genesis-inspired music. The release party of Plastic Soup was held in January 2010. Unfortunately I missed this concert (see review) due to illness, but at the same time I knew that I would get a second chance because this concert would be filmed for a DVD.
More than a year and a half later, the band finally released the footage of this concert on PBII@Boerderij.org named after the e-mail address of the venue they chose for the CD release party. This DVD contains almost the entire concert, only a couple of songs performed just after the break weren't included. Yet the entire performance of Plastic Soup can be watched. Right from the start it's obvious that they reproduced the music from this fine album rather well. The more aggressive way of singing by Mr. van Wassem perfectly suits the music. He has no problem at all singing and playing the keyboards at the same time. One of the highlights of the CD presentation was of course The Great Pacific Garbage Patch dealing with the plastic pollution of the oceans. Moreover, this epic piece has been visualized very well by using drapery on which they projected the images of this pollution. Captain Charles Moore, the discoverer of this 'plastic soup', also appears in the film. The two other highlights of the concert were Book Of Changes and Loneliness. Those pieces show that PBII still perform very melodic progressive rock based on the musical style of Plackband. However, two tracks need a special mention: Ladrillo and Fata Morgana. On these tracks bassist Harry den Hartog shows his skills. The first piece is a bass solo accompanied by some string synthesizers. Den Hartog plays the bass as if he's playing a flamenco guitar! The second piece has an Arabian-like melody played by Harry on his Roland VB-99 synthesizer. This track also contains a guest performance by the well-known bass player John Jowitt (ex- IQ, ex-Jadis, Arena).
After the break Mr. Jowitt did another performance by singing a fine version of Pink Floyd's Have A Cigar. This can be seen on the extra features of the DVD. Another guest musician from Arena is John Mitchell. He plays an additional guitar solo on Cradle To Cradle just as on the album version. Mitchell can be watched as well on the extra features while singing a fine version of the Peter Gabriel song Here Comes The Flood. He's accompanied by pianist Marc Besselink (ex-Kramer), who uses Michel van Wassem's keyboards. The only female on stage is Heidi Jo Hines who sings the ballad It's Your Life from the Plastic Soup album. After the break she performs two more songs of which only the self-written Weak Turns To Strong can be seen on the extras. This song has hardly anything to do with prog rock; it's more in the vein of Joss Stone. People who read the concert review of the CD release party may have noticed that a couple of tunes have not been included on this DVD. Sadly, since I would have loved to watch some old Plackband songs as well like The Hunch Back or The Good Earth which are just amazing pieces. I also wanted to see the Judy Tzuke cover Stay With Me Till Dawn done by Heidi Jo Hines. However, this DVD contains some extras that might compensate for the missing songs namely the three added videos. Strangely enough one of them - the nice video they made of the track Plastic Soup - isn't mentioned on the credits of the information sheet.
Another extra is the funny video Countdown shot during the preparing of the concert. The third video was made to promote the band's next project 1000Wishes. The music for this project will be recorded with Hofstad Jeugd Orkest, a symphony orchestra consisting of eighty young boys and girls. This project consists of a studio album and a fantasy thriller written by Ronald van der Pol. It's a heroic adventure about a little boy who has to fight against cancer. The benefits of the project go to the Dutch foundation KiKa which is an abbreviation of Kinderen Kankervrij (Children Free Of Cancer). KiKa's goal is to increase the recovery from children's cancer to 95 percent in 2025. For that purpose they raise funds for research. The first tune of this forthcoming project, Never Old, can be heard from a roughly made demo. It includes lead singer Ruud Slakhorst and bassist Alex van Elswijk. Recently the latter replaced Harry den Hartog. The song proves that PBII will surprise with a new and amazing sounding album.
Summarizing I can only conclude that I'm very pleased with the contents of this DVD. The concert has been well-filmed with fine close-ups and a perfect 5.1 surround sound. The music is very enjoyable and I hardly noticed any mistakes compared to the studio versions. However, I would rather have seen the complete concert as it was performed on the day it was recorded, but unfortunately that's not the case. It's intelligible that they didn't include the final encore because that's just another version of Book Of Changes. Maybe they left out a number of songs because they couldn't get all the performed material on one disc. I don't know, but nevertheless, this DVD is still worthwhile watching and buying!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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