January 15, 2010 - 013, Tilburg (NL)Sailors & Sinners, the latest album of Dutch veteran rockers Alquin contains music that can hardly be labeled as progressive rock music. I rather call it mainstream rock. However, the band started their career in 1972 and recorded several albums containing great prog tunes. Those tunes are still on the bandís repertoire and therefore a visit to one of their concerts is always a feast. During a live show, Alquin perform their music with a lot of passion and enthusiasm and thereís always room for improvisation. The gig at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands proved this again.
After a short intro taken from a tape the band hit the stage and played The Mission, the opening tune from their latest album. Itís a rather mediocre song, but the way these senior musicians performed it showed that we deal with one of the best live acts from the lowlands. Next on the set list two more songs from Sailors & Sinners followed by Revolutionís Eve, an old piece from their third album Nobody Can Wait Forever (1975). The audience immediately reacted enthusiastically on hearing the first notes of this excellent song. It seemed as if they had been waiting for the bandís old stuff. Guitarist Ferdinand Bakker got a leading role on Soft-Eyed Woman, another oldie from their highly acclaimed album The Mountain Queen (1973). Bakker let his black Gibson Les Paul guitar sound very melodic. Terror Eyes was the first song from the bandís comeback album Blue Planet (2005). I think the songs on this album are slightly better than the material on Sailors & Sinners. The title track was the last song before they took a short break. On the album this track lasts for about fourteen minutes, but the live version is a couple of minutes longer and more powerful.
After the break, I expected a short acoustic set, but after performing the acoustic ballad Holland from their latest album, they changed gear. For Return To The Blue Planet, Mr. Bakkerís electric guitar and the five string electric bass of Walter Latuperissa were plugged in again and the audience was treated to another old song: Fool In The Mirror. The taped intro of new track Kite Runner sounded like an Indian tribe dancing for rain. It made some people in the audience scream-along. After this song, lead singer Michel van Dijk got a piece of paper from a person in the audience. ďThis is a winning lottery ticketĒ, he joked. ďThe first prize is a four-week vacation at Ferdinand Bakkerís place including guitar lessons and free meals.Ē In fact, he couldnít read the note without his glasses and handed it over to saxophone player Ronald Ottenhof. The message on the paper appeared to be a request to perform songs from the album Marks, but a band hardly ever change their set list so they continued with the new track Behind The Tree. When I listened to this song on Sailors & Sinners, it didnít remind me of Camel at all, but strangely enough this time it did. The sound of the Hammond organ played by Dick Franssen was very recognizable for New Guinea Sunrise (1975), certainly one of my favourite Alquin-tracks giving me a lot of joy.
Throughout the concert Ferdinand Bakkerís violin lied on one of the amplifiers. Fortunately, he picked it up for the last two songs of the regular set. Mr. Barnum Juniorís Magnificent And Fabulous City, part 1 from the Marks-album (1972) got a false start, because the violin was out of tune and had to be tuned first. The Hammond-intro of the next song made my heart beat a little faster. For me, an Alquin-concert isnít satisfying without my all-time favourite The Dance (1973). The first part didnít include Ferdinandís distorted guitar sound. He now played the melody with his violin which sounded as if it had always been this way. The second part featured solos on piano, guitar and saxophone. The bandís well-known single Wheelchair Groupie never became a hit single actually, but it is always welcomed as one and therefore a solid choice for a last encore. Together with Central Station Hustle it appeared to be a perfect piece to end the concert, leaving the dedicated fans behind in a great state of mind. Again, they witnessed a wonderful live performance.
Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Soft Eyed Woman
Sailors & Sinners
Return To The Blue Planet
Fool In The Mirror
Not In A Million Years
Behind The Tree
New Guinea Sunrise
Mr. Barnum's Junior's Magnificent And Fabulous City (Part One)
Central Station Hustle
Pictures Alquin by Arthur Haggenburg
Click on the picture to enlarge.
Line up Alquin:(left to right)
drums, backing vocals
Michel van Dijk:
lead vocals, percussion
basses, backing vocals, acoustic guitar
electric and acoustic guitar, violin, flute, backing vocals
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