A British Prog Invasion Festival XL

Milky Way Gas Station, The Dame, Kyros, GU-RU,
Moonparticle, HeKz & IO Earth

April 6, 2019 - Podium Duycker, Hoofddorp (NL)


Poppodium Duycker is a rather new concert stage in the Netherlands. They have already made their name with several so called PROG INVASION festivals. In the past they produced three editions which had a modest vanguard of Australian, Belgian and German bands. For the fourth edition they invited a considerable force majeure of English progressive rock bands together with a couple of bands from the Netherlands.

So, A BRITISH PROG INVASION XL is born and it is the first true festival edition of what might become a series of festivals over the next few years. For the first edition no less than five English progressive rock acts were booked. Namely Kyros, GU-RU, Moonparticle, HeKz and IO Earth. But before they could present their songs the audience would be warmed up by the Dutch acts Milky Way Gas Station and The Dame.
 

Milky Way Gas Station

The opening act Milky Way Gas Station made their debut with the album Somewhere / Anywhere (see review) in 2017. According to their website the band members come from different outskirts of the prog universe. They found each other in the simple truth of a real song: start with an acoustic guitar, blend it with synth or Hammond, add some drums and bass and there you go. Some songs have odd time signatures but still sound like 'regular' songs. Even if they last for about half an hour. Finding the exit of a song sometimes just takes some time...
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Milky Way Gas Station on stage (►more pictures)
Well this certainly invites you to see them live and see if they can copy their well crafted studio tracks. Of course, their set was dedicated to their debut album and therefore almost the complete album was done in its entirety. Only Torn Grain,
Second Attempt To Catch Nectar Drinking Butterflies In An Empty Arbour On Camera and Telescope Sight were left out due to a limited time on stage (only 45 minutes). Right from the start it became clear that the compositions they performed became more alive than on the album. On the album they sounded a bit too sterile and maybe over produced. The live feeling was reminiscent of Pink Floyd. Inspired songs that are really strong. Something which I always like when I see a band on stage. For me it was the complete set; one big musical highlight. Of course, certain tracks I loved even more. Such as Neutral, on which former Thť Lau and The Scene keyboard player Jan Peter Bast kicked ass with a brilliant solo performed on his synthesizer. But he wasn't the only musician on stage who kicked ass with a brilliant solo. Guitarist Niels Hoppe really did know how to entertain a crowd by playing several stunning parts on his instrument. But maybe the biggest complement goes out to bassist Boudewijn Geels who made his debut on stage with the band. Bravo! Another highlight was for me Moon Phases. Most of all the parts which sounded like Rush were amazing. It was probably not so strange they played music which sounded like this band, because lead singer and second guitarist Rob IJpelaan sees them as one of his musical influences. All in all, the band can look back at a excellent performance which without any doubt surprised many listeners present!

[For more pictures, video clips and the setlist see below]

 

The Dame

The second act on stage have also only made one debut album. Losing Sight Of What You Want (see review) was released last year and was followed by several live performances. One of their concerts, which I witnessed, was at 't Blok in Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel when they supported Franck Carducci and his amazing live band
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Stephen de Ruijter and Marian van Charante (r)
(►more pictures)
(see review). At the time I said that in general the band did a good performance but probably not as strong as on their album. But a new young band has had the time to grown on stage throughout the year! Well this was certainly the case when I saw them a second time. The band has certainly grown music wise and also their stage performances looked even more professional. The musicians were again wearing shining costumes but nowadays it seemed they are even more comfortable wearing them and at the same time giving a good rock performance. A performance which musically was even more enjoyable. They probably had practised even more than before to give their best shot. Well it showed off. Most of all lead singer and rhythm guitarist Marian van Charante and lead guitarist Stephen de Ruijter impressed me personally. The first one really entertained the audience with her vocal parts and stories in between the songs. The second one occasionally gave a great solo on his instrument. Of course, the main part of the set included songs from their debut. But it was also nice to see that they dared to come up with a brand-new piece of music. Unfazed certainly showed that the future looks good for the band. So, thumps up for them and bravo for doing a great set!

[For more pictures, video clips and the setlist see below]

 

Kyros

The first British act on stage I had seen before. However, at the time they used a different name. Together with Estonian outfit X-Panda they played a concert as Synaesthesia in January 2015 at the W2 in Den Bosch (see review). As lead singer and keyboard player Adam Warne mentioned during their set, they performed
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Adam Warne (►more pictures)
more often in the Netherlands than in London. Maybe a little bit strange, but then again not so if you know that the Dutch audience is much more into progressive rock than Adam's fellow countrymen. Well they certainly do miss some great progressive rock in his home country. Because the band just kicked ass during their way too short set. According to the people running the venue they were a bit too long on stage to get everything fixed for their performance, but maybe the time in between the bands was way too short, only 20 minutes. Therefore, they had to skip one of my personal favourites. Namely Cloudburst taken from their excellent album Vox Humana (2016, see review). Of course, there was still enough to enjoy and they even played some music they performed 4 years ago. Excellent songs such as Noumenon and Sacrifice, both taken from Synaesthesia (see review), which was released in 2013. A new piece was also in the set. Sentry sounded much like the music they released on their 2 albums. Something which I liked a lot. All musicians gave their best shots on stage, but for me personally the bands Italian bass player Peter Episcopo deserved not only one thump up but even two. His amazing playing really got my attention throughout the entire concert. While wearing a warm sweater, he was running around the stage playing difficult parts and doing some occasional backing vocals. Hopefully the band will return very soon to the Netherlands for an even longer performance. They deserve it without any doubt!

[For more pictures, video clips and the setlist see below]

 

GU-RU

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Lee Spreadbury (►more pictures)
The next act probably didn't ring any bells for most people and therefore many progheads decided to have a bite (it was dinner time after all), while keyboard player and lead singer Lee Spreadbury tried with his fellow band mates Naomi Perera (flute, vocals) and Malcolm D'Sa (drums) to promote the debut album of GU-RU. The music you can hear on Tales From The Ashram is not the average progressive rock you have on your menu. No way! Well it certainly doesn't mean it is less enjoyable when you mix electronic music, psychedelic music, disco and prog into one musical style. But you have to be open minded for it that's for sure. Having no guitarist to play a fine solo or a good riff but someone to play on a flute and many synthesizers to colour the compositions certainly makes the music sound different. For myself most part of the set was unknown music because I hadn't heard the album at all. However, one certain track got my attention right from the start. The band did a good version of Frankenstein , which is originally an instrumental by The Edgar Winter Group from their 1972 album They Only Come Out At Night. Next to the fine cover I certainly enjoyed the other songs they performed. Most of all Cosmic Rain was one of the musical highlights. This relaxed piece of music had some fine electric piano sounds next to the wonderful flute playing. Finally, some words have to be said about the outfit the three musicians were wearing. The hippie kind of clothes fitted perfectly to the music they performed on stage. Even without a large crowd in front of them the band managed to give a solid performance!

[For more pictures, video clips and the setlist see below]


After the first four performances it was time for the three clinics during the one hour break. The audience could enjoy a WALK-IN CLINIC VOCALS done by Matt Young (HeKz). Or they could choose to go to the WALK-IN CLINIC GUITAR done by Niko Tsonev (Moonparticle). Finally there was the WALK-IN CLINIC DRUMS done by Robin Johnson (Kyros). Unfortunately I didn't seen anything of it myself because our team went out to have something to eat as well.
 

Moonparticle

For most people the next band was a rather unknown act. But the key member of the band is known to people who witnessed past concerts played by Lifesigns and Steven Wilson. Bulgarian-born musician, producer, composer, mixing engineer, and arranger Niko Tsonev was with both acts as the lead guitarist for a while. Between January and July 2017 he recorded with musicians Adam Holzman (keyboards), Theo Travis (saxophone),
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Belle Scar (►more pictures)
Craig Blundell (drums), Samy Bishai (violin) and Grog Lisee (vocalis) Hurricane Esmeralda (see review). It was released January 2018 by a music collective which got the name Moonparticle. So far this line up of musicians haven't done any concerts to promote this strong album. But sometimes things change and when you don't expect it at all the name of Moonparticle is on the bill of a festival. Well I am glad our team could see the first ever live performance of what now has become a band. However not with the names mentioned above who participated on the album. Maybe too bad, but those who had witnessed this concert know that the ones who stood on the stage managed to give a really excellent performance. Niko himself was the only one on stage who played the parts he recorded for the album. Without a keyboard player but with an extra guitarist, Drew Richards, on board the compositions really came alive during the band's strong performance. With Belle Scar, replacing Grog Lisee, the band even had who brought expression into the music. Her moves and vocal parts really impressed a lot of people, including myself! They played the whole album and even had some time left to do a non album track titled Venetian Poison. During the instrumental tracks it became very clear that with Tsonev on stage, an amazing guitar player of an unbelievable high level could be seen. Without any doubt he was the most professional musician of the whole festival. But I guess if you received a scholarship from Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA) aged seventeen, and moved to London, England to study Music Production at Lewisham College, you are certainly not just a finger picking person. Those who missed this incredible performance, probably never get a second chance to witness such an amazing concert again. I am glad I was present that day!

[For more pictures, video clips and the setlist see below]

 

HeKz

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Matt Young (►more pictures)
(►interview)
I guess HeKz hardly needs any introduction. The band has already built up a rather strong fan base in the Netherlands. During last year, the fact the release party of their latest album INVICTA (2018, see review) was in our country says enough. The songs performed at the festival were almost the same as one year ago. However, they were played with a different line up on stage. It hadn't changed that much, only keyboard player James Messenger was replaced by Mauro Zarattini from Italy. It didn't really matter in the overall sound of the band on stage. Still moving and playing with a lot of energy and passion. Upfront as always lead singer and bass player Matt Young. This time around using a headset microphone to allow him to walk around the stage even more. This way he had more time to connect with his fellow musician on stage. Most of all to do the obvious awesome posses with the guitar tandem Tom Smith and Al Beveridge. As always, the sometimes complex studio tracks got excellent live renditions. Therefore, I have no particular favourites to mention. During the earlier mentioned release party, the band didn't play Line In The Sand from the new album. Later on it appeared that fans certainly did miss this song. So the band made sure it had to be played during this festival. Well the fans loved it all the way. Originally the final piece of music to be played would have been one of my favourite HeKz compositions. But The Black Hand turned out to be too long in length, because they already passed the time they were allowed to be on stage. So instead a shorter track was chosen to do. This became Trecena, another great track without any doubt. Above all a great piece to end an excellent live performance.
 

IO Earth

The headliners of the festival I had seen only a couple of months earlier at the Northern Prog Festival (see review). At the time they were also the headliners and gave an impressive performance. A performance which you might think was not easy to improve. But strangely enough they did. Even if the setlist was almost the same and the spectacular
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From L to R:
Dave Cureton, Jez King and Adam Gough
(►more pictures)
show was a copy from concerts done before. This would mean the spotlight was most of the time on the songs taken from their latest effort Solitude (2018, see review). This time around they didn't perform the entire album because they had less time on stage available. Therefore, they skipped Embrace. Thank God they left in New World, the title track of their 2015 release (see review). Because it's one of their finest compositions Strangely enough a great piece taken from their eponymous debut album (2009, see review) was brought back on the setlist. Hopefully The Creation is in the future not the only piece from their excellent debut on the setlist. Keyboard player Adam Gough told me after the show that if fans wants them, they will certainly do them. However, guitarist Dave Cureton mentioned during the concert that the next time they will hit the stage in the Netherlands (Progdreams 2019) the setlist will probably be the same again. Just like on last year's Dutch concert, the highlight was again an amazing version of Find A Way. Strangely enough the band was not asked back on stage for an encore. They certainly deserved it but without one, the band still gave a perfect ending to a well organized festival.

A festival which hadn't any weak performances from the acts that were on stage during the very long day. Therefore, probably not one of the visitors went home in a bad mood. Just like me they are most of all hoping for a sequel of A BRITISH PROG INVASION XL!!!

Henri Strik (edited by Dave Smith)

Live video
recordings

Henri, Eden & Roel Strik

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Neutral (10:22)
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Moon Phases (11:20)

Setlist Milky Way Gas Station:

37 Part 1
Neutral
Why?
37 Part 2
Moon Phases

Pictures Milky Way Gas Station by Arthur Haggenburg

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Line up Milky Way Gas Station:

(left to right)
Jan Peter Bast:
keyboards
Rob IJpelaan:
guitar and vocals
Harald Veenker:
drums
Boudewijn Geels:
bass
Niels Hoppe:
guitar
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Live video
recordings

Henri, Eden & Roel Strik

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Water Tumbles Down (7:22)
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The Last Dance (5:44)

Setlist The Dame:

General Disarray
Water Tumbles Down
The Last Dance
Unfazed
Thy Fatherís Bidding
Losing Sight





Pictures The Dame by Arthur Haggenburg

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Line up The Dame:

(left to right)
Thijs de Ruijter:
keyboard
Marian van Charante:
lead and backing vocals, guitar
Stephen de Ruijter:
electric guitar
Michel Krempel:
bass and backing vocals
Remco Engels:
drums
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Live video
recordings

Henri, Eden & Roel Strik

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Boiling Point/Ego/Dilate (19:25)

Setlist Kyros:


Two Frames Of Panic
Monster
Noumenon
Sacrifice
Rumour
Technology Killed The Kids
Sentry
Boiling Point/ Ego/ Dilate





Pictures Kyros by Arthur Haggenburg

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Line up Kyros:

(left to right)
Joey Frevola:
guitars and keyboard
Robin Johnson:
drums and percussion
Adam Warne:
lead vocals and keyboards
Peter Episcopo:
bass and backing vocals
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Live video
recordings

Henri, Eden & Roel Strik

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Cosmic Rain (6:38)
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Asylum (4:54)



Pictures GU-RU by Arthur Haggenburg

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Setlist GU-RU:

Kingdom Within
Cosmic Rain
Peace
Frankenstein
Biscuit
Zenith
Asylum
Glass Houses
Heavenly
Where Were You
Flex
Poundshaft

Line up GU-RU:

(left to right)
Naomi Perera:
flute, vocals
Lee Spreadbury:
keys, vocals
Malcolm D'Sa:
drums
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Live video
recordings

Henri, Eden & Roel Strik

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White Light (4:49)

Setlist Moonparticle:


Leonís Experiment
Helium I
Helium II
Hurricane Esmeralda
1000 Year Rose
Winter Mountain
Michelangelo Donít Stop
Reverend Mum
Venetian Poison
Polystar
White Light




Pictures Moonparticle by Arthur Haggenburg

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Line up Moonparticle:

(left to right)
Drew Richards:
rhythm guitar and noises
Belle Scar:
lead vocals
Niko Tsonev:
lead guitar
Laurie Lowe:
drums
Tiernan Godel:
bass
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Live video
recordings

Henri, Eden & Roel Strik

Will be published later

Setlist HeKz:


Quetzlcoatl
Disconnect The World
Bring The Fire
Ultimatum
For Our Lives
A Pound Of Flesh
Line In The Sand
Trecena




Pictures HeKz by Arthur Haggenburg

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Line up HeKz:

(left to right)
Al Beveridge:
guitar and backing vocals
Mauro Zarattini:
keyboards
Matt Young:
bass and vocals
Tom Smith:
guitar
Kirk Brandham:
drums
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Live video
recordings

Henri, Eden & Roel Strik

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Madness (8:37)
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New World (6:48)


Setlist IO Earth:

Solitude
Strangest Ways In Life
New World
Madness
Hold On
The Creation
Race Against Time
Find A Way





Pictures IO Earth by Arthur Haggenburg

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Line up IO Earth:

(left to right)
Dave Cureton:
lead guitar, lead and backing vocals
Luke Shingler:
saxophones, flute, EWI
Rosanna Lefevre:
lead and backing vocals
Jez King:
violin, guitar
Christian Jerromes:
drums
Adam Gough:
keyboards, programming, guitar, vocals
Christian Nokes:
bass
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