Neo-Prophet, Ulysses & Andromeda

April 4, 2010 - De Bosuil, Weert (NL)


'De Bosuil' is a very nice venue for concerts. Itís a shame that not a lot of people are aware of the fact that the town of Weert has such a location, which can have an audience of 600 people. Also the stage is rather large. On Easter Sunday they proved that they could handle a mini festival in a very professional way. Three bands were on the bill for what they called PROGROCK FEST. Too bad that not a lot of people made the effort to visit this event. Other events in the neighbourhood such as PAASPOP could have been the reason that the venue was not very crowded. Another reason could have been that two of the three acts had already played in The Netherlands on the Friday and Saterday just before Easter Sunday. But it did not matter to the bands at all that they had to show their musical tricks to only a few people. Bravo to them, because they gave everybody who was there the full treatment.

Neo-Prophet

Neo-Prophet from Belgium had the task to show that their first fantastic gig on Dutch soil, last year at the Symforce Festival (see review), was not just a coincidence. The line-up had changed a little bit compared to the other performance. Guitarist Frank Debruyne left the band two months ago and was replaced by Geert Annys. In only seven rehearsals he learned the full live set. He proved that he is a fast learning person during the 50 minutes set of the band. His guitar sound certainly brought some more aggressive elements into the music of our friends from Belgium. But I would not call it death metal, by no means. It suited the music very well. In the slower parts you could also hear that Gee can handle the mellow pieces without any problems. Keyboard player Sjoerd Bruyneel did have problems during the first two songs of the performance. His instruments were far too low in the final mix and you could hardly hear them on and off stage. Most of all the great synthesizer intro on (March Of The) Boneless was completely ruined. But soon enough the man behind the mixing desk found out that the keys needed a little bit more volume. Wesley Jaques had to play his parts on the drum kit that belonged to someone else. Thomas Lejon from Andromeda was the owner and with a couple of adjustments Wesley managed to give the music of Neo-Prophet the right rhythm. He did this together with lead singer Hans Six who touched the bass as well. And again they had a piece that is not taken from the bandís debut album (Monsters) on the menu. The Calling showed that we can expect a more heavy approach on their next album. After the bandís performance it became very clear that they are a very strong live unit. Most of all the addition of female backing singer Conny Dequeecker lifted the music certainly to an even more professional level.

Ulysses

We could hear a heavier approach music wise during the performance of the second act. Ulysses is a band from The Netherlands that was formed in 1998 by guitarist Sylvester Vogelenzand de Jong and keyboard player Ron Mozer. Their goal was to make great progressive music. Well, I have to admit they succeeded very well when you listen to the bandís two official albums Symbioses (2003) and The Gift Of Tears (2008). Both albums got raving reviews in the press. I called their music heavy progressive rock of an international quality level. But playing this type of music in front of a live audience is another thing. A very long time ago I already had to chance to witness one of their performances, shortly after the release of Symbioses. A performance which I enjoyed a lot at the time. But now, several years later, I was curious again how the band had developed as a live act. Thumbs up is all I can say after I had seen them playing only material from their last effort. The only piece from Symbioses was selected by the band as a final encore. But an encore was not requested by the crowd. So World Of Confusion remained only as a word on a piece of paper that was used for the set list. Too bad, because the band certainly deserved it to play much longer than the time they had been given. Almost the entire The Gift Of Tears album was played, except for the track Silence Of The Night. Itís a shame that they didnít play this song, because this ballad would have been a fine moment of rest in the set. All other songs moved more towards the fast up tempo material written by the band. Each of them had a big impact on me but one song in particular has to be mentioned. Anat. This track (which is divided into three pieces) brought a lot of emotions to the surface when it was played. Lead singer Michael Hos explained later on that he had a difficult time to sing the lyrics about a one year old girl that died of a brain tumour. I guess that those songs full of emotions bring out the best parts in a musician. Most striking moments, besides the fine soloís done by Sylvester and Ron on their instruments, were for me the strong harmony vocals and the fine playing on the six string bass from Peter Boer.

Andromeda

Maybe the best part of the festival was left until the last band Andromeda entered the stage. But that would perhaps mean that the other two bands were less impressive or strong. Well, thatís certainly not the case, because Neo-Prophet and Ulysses proved to be great live acts that certainly know how to entertain a crowd. But when musicians from those bands watched Andromeda in front of the stage with their mouths open this only means a big compliment for them. The members of this Swedish band are technically very skilled and are music wise of the same high level as those from a band such as Dream Theater. Their singer David Fremberg might even be a better vocalist than James LaBrie if you ask me. Expectations were very high for me, because their album II=I (2003) is a real masterpiece and Chimera (2006) includes the best prog metal music possible. The musicians told me that they were in the middle of writing new material for another Andromeda release. Maybe this little trip to The Netherlands could inspire them to come up with another masterpiece very soon. The band kicked off with the first track from their latest album The Immunity Zone: Recognizing Fate. This song had a bit of a false start, because Davidís microphone didnít work properly. After the third song a 25 minutes medley from II=I †was done. It featured the last 3 tracks from the album and they named it The Parasite Trilogy. It was dedicated to a birthday girl that had come along with the band. Too bad that they did not do the first three tracks from the album, because they are in my opinion even stronger. Guitarist Johan Reinholdz explained after the show that they had to skip certain songs, because they could no do a full set of 90 minutes long. Mr. Fremberg also told the audience just before Inner Circle that a Rolling Stone medley was next. He realised that this had nothing to do with prog and mentioned that he just made a joke. The same song again showed how great Mr. Lejon is behind his drum kit and as always wearing a real kilt. After The Words Unspoken from the first album Extension Of The Wish (2001) the band would have left the stage to do the final encore, but only after a lot of cheering, hand clapping and shouting the words ďwe want moreĒ from the audience. Instead the band stayed on the stage and did play Periscope in a rather strong way. I am not sure if they were afraid that the crowd would not make enough noise for an encore and did not leave for that reason. Well, I guess I would have started the fire anyway if they had left the stage. They certainly deserved an encore and also more playing time was allowed if I could have made the rules. Those who did not make it to the Bosuil on Easter Sunday missed one hell of a festival that went very smoothly.

Henri Strik (edited by Astrid de Ronde)

Setlist Neo Prophet:


The Vast Machine
(March Of The) Boneless
The Man Without A Name
Song X
911 Pianoid
Blessed One
The Calling
The Truth

Pictures Neo Prophet by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up Neo Prophet:

(left to right)
Wesley Jaques:
Drums
Conny Dequeecker:
Backing vocals
Geert Annys:
Guitars
Hans Six:
Lead vocals & bass
Sjoerd Bruyneel:
Keyboards

Setlist Ulysses:


Gift Of Tears
Guardian Angel
Lost
Family Portrait
Anat
How Much More





Pictures Ulysses by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up Ulysses:

(left to right)
Sylvester Vogelenzang de Jong:
Guitars & backing vocals
Ron Mozer:
Keyboards
Renť van Haaren:
Drums & backing vocals
Michael Hos:
Lead & backing vocals
Peter Boer:
Bass & backing vocals

Setlist Andromeda:


Recognizing Fate
In The Deepest Of Waters
Extension Of The Wish
Parasite Trilogy:
   - Parasite
   - One In My Head
   - This Fragile Surface
My Star
Inner Circle
The Words Unspoken

Encores:
Periscope




Pictures Andromeda by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up Andromeda:

(left to right)
Johan Reinholdz:
Guitars
Thomas Lejon:
Drums
David Fremberg:
Lead & backing vocals
Fabian Gustafson:
Bass
Martin Hedin:
Keyboards & backing vocals










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