Leap Day & 5BridgeS - October 30, 2010
StarSound Studio's, Utrecht (NL)
It's a shame that nowadays only few people attend a live gig to witness great progressive rock bands perform. I experienced this twice in a fortnight and both times at the Starsound Studio in Utrecht. The bands that played at this venue had organized these live shows not only for themselves, but primarily for all prog heads out there! Unfortunately, neither Leap Day nor 5bridgeS could manage to attract a larger audience. Nevertheless, those who visited these concerts saw two Dutch bands giving outstanding performances.
Leap DayLeap Day, based in the northern part of The Netherlands, already impressed me at the 2009 edition of the Progfarm Festival (see review) and with their debut album Awakening The Muse (see review) which belonged to one of the musical highlights of 2009. After a false start with a sound sample the band began with the new piece Messenger that will appear on their second album Skylge's Lair to be released early 2011. Again we could listen to a band playing very melodic prog music mostly inspired by a band as Camel. Next were three tracks from their debut album. On When Leaves Fall, the strong opening piece of this album, bass player Peter Stel 'harmed' his four strings in a pleasant way. Every time I listen to Secret Gardener on a live stage I hear the sound of a tractor passing by in my mind. This soundscape can namely be heard on the studio version, but they never use it on stage. Next we could enjoy three new pieces to appear on their second album. My favorite song is without doubt Walls moving to a beautiful climax reminding me of Awaken from Yes. Especially the guitar parts played by Eddie Mulder were excellent. The title track of the up-coming new album already sounded familiar, because Leap Day performed this fine instrumental piece at the Progfarm Festival of 2009. Eddie Mulder's melodic guitar work was again a treat for my ears, but also keyboard players Gert van Engelenburg and Derk Evert Waalkens could show their talents on this Camel inspired track. However, one of the highlights was without doubt Eyes Wide Open introduced by lead singer Jos Harteveld as a 'golden oldie'. It's probably one of the first songs they ever wrote for the band. It starts mellow, but as soon as Peter Stel's bass takes over this piece appears to be rather emotional with an amazing guitar solo that moves -together with the beautiful keyboard sounds- to a breathtaking climax. After Sandgrains the regular set came to an end, but the musicians remained on stage for the encore Little Green Men. With their fantastic live show Leap Day belongs to one of the best Dutch progressive rock bands.
5bridgeSThis band from the city of Haarlem had been given some more time to show their talents, but I didn't care, because their music inspired by bands as Yes, Genesis and PFM is a real treat to listen to. I'd seen 5bridgeS on the 2008 Progfarm Festival and a year later I had the chance to witness them during the release party of their debut album The Thomas Tracks. It was obvious that the largest part of their set would contain songs from their debut. However, they already performed one new piece which they provisionally called Jet Lag, maybe inspired by an album of PFM's jazz rock period. This time the songs from The Thomas Tracks were even better performed than during the CD-presentation. The two instrumental pieces Lovernius' Song and Martialis' Reveries were done without making hardly any mistakes. Unfortunately, during the fantastic compositions Tricks & Treason, Batavian Revolt and Amazons & Haven it was evident that lead singer Piet Roelofsen appeared to be the weakest link in the band. When he sang in a more aggressive way he sounded pretty good, but during the mellow parts his performance was mostly poor. However, I had no problems with his playing on the acoustic guitar or his keyboard once in a while. Maybe he wasn't focused enough on his vocal performances whilst playing and singing at the same time. Moreover, he wasn't a real stage personality and he hardly communicated with the audience. Even drummer Rob van der Linden was aware of the fact that Piet Roelofsen had little to say in between the songs. He couldn't keep silence and had to make a remark about it. Thank goodness, these critical remarks didn't spoil the show, because the other band members were excellent on their instruments. It was a real joy to listen to Enzo Gallo playing the electric and the lap steel guitar. The way Martien Thoolen plucked the strings of his bass guitars while pressing the bass pedals gave me a lot of pleasure as well. I enjoyed the fine retro sounds coming out of the many keyboards played by Luke d'Arceno. The MiniMoog, Hammond and Mellotron-sounds were very well mixed and could be heard the best possible way. Especially the Mellotron-sound during the final encore just blew out of the speakers. Just as Leap Day before them, 5bridgeS didn't leave stage for the encore. The classic Genesis-track Watcher Of The Skies was greatly performed. This was the track on which singer Piet Roelofsen gave his best vocal performance of the concert. In many ways his voice is reminiscent of Peter Gabriel's. It maybe a cliché, but this beautiful piece of music was a perfect ending of a great live concert. Hopefully Mr. Roelofsen will work on his singing and performing abilities so that he sounds a lot better during forthcoming live performances. This excellent band can sound much stronger than they already do.
I'm not sure if people who read the intro of this review will join me to my next live concert, but I fervently hope that more people decide to visit a concert of a band instead of listening to it via their CD-player!
Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Setlist Leap day:The Messenger
When Leaves Fall
What Would You Do
Road To Yourself
Eyes Wide Open
Little Green Men
Pictures Leap Day by Arthur Haggenburg
Click on the picture to enlarge.
Line up Leap Day:(left to right)
Derk Evert Waalkens:
keyboards, backing vocals
lead vocals, acoustic guitar
lead guitar, backing vocals
Gert van Engelenburg:
keyboards, backing vocals
Setlist 5BridgeS:Tricks & Treason
Amazons & Haven
Jet Lag (Working Title)
Sign On The Wall
On Calpe's Rock
Watcher Of The Skies
Pictures 5BridgeS by Arthur Haggenburg
Click on the picture to enlarge.
Line up 5BridgeS:(left to right)
electric six string guitar, lap steel guitar
Rob van der Linden:
lead vocals, acoustic six string guitar, keyboard
bass guitars, bass pedals, backing vocals
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