September 12, 2010 - W2, 's-Hertogenbosch (NL)

It's always nice to visit an anniversary party, especially if the music is outstanding and many friends join as well. This was the case when I went to one of the concerts RPWL gave for their tenth anniversary at the W2 in Den Bosch. In 2000, I heard Hole In The Sky from their debut album God Has Failed for the first time. I was immediately impressed by the sound of this German band. At first I thought I was listening to a new track from a David Gilmour or Pink Floyd-album. That's not that strange if you get a copy of an album with only the words RPWL on it. It turned out to be the release of a band that had covered many Pink Floyd-songs in the past. The subsequent ten years I've followed almost every step RPWL made music wise. As a live unit they were always a treat for my ears as well, using a quadraphonic sound system in the beginning, but changed to the usual stereo stage sound later on. However, their live performances were a bit boring, a bit static most of the time. Fortunately, the use of slides and pictures at the back of the stage, made it pleasant enough for me to watch them play strong progressive rock music.
That was also the case during one of their first afternoon gigs ever to promote their latest 'best of' double-CD The Gentle Art Of Music (see review). The slides and pictures in the background were tastefully chosen and they worked out very well along with the songs performed. I had expected that a large part of the set would have been performed on acoustic instruments, because the second disc of the album contains rearranged RPWL - songs almost recorded acoustically - but they didn't. Maybe it was better this way, because in general I'm not a fan of acoustic songs.
The band kicked off with some eastern sounds from India, which are part of the intro for Sleep. The song came along with projections at the back of the stage showing some religious female images. After the sing-along tune Breath In, Breath Out and Start The Fire the real cool stuff was next. With 'cool stuff' I mean the songs that feature exceptional strong instrumental breaks, lots of fabulous keyboard and fine guitar solos. I could enjoy three of such 'cool' songs! The band started with Silenced introduced as a song about wars, followed by Stranger. The Moog-solo of Yogi Lang had a lot in common with the way Manfred Mann plays the Moog. It certainly was the highlight of this track. The third song was Gentle Art Of Swimming, introduced as the first progressive rock song ever written by the band. I missed this piece during previous performances I had witnessed, but these gigs were all part of a double or triple concert. After the show keyboard player Markus Jehle told me that lack of time is always the reason they hardly ever perform such long pieces. During the performance of Gentle Art Of Swimming drummer Marc Turiaux could predominate the stage by playing a short, but wonderful drum solo.

Nowadays, the funniest part of an RPWL-concert is without doubt the performance of a song they consider not to be a progressive rock song. While playing This Is Not A Prog Song, I'll always listen with a big smile on my face. Even the images at the back of the stage tell you that the band don't take themselves too seriously. The prog medley they included in this piece was played as if it was their daytime job to play covers from other prog related bands. However, after the show Yogi Lang had to acknowledge that it's very difficult to play a number of small sections of well-known compositions in a row. It proved that a bunch of real professional musicians had entered the W2-stage that Sunday afternoon. For most people in the audience it certainly was a feast to recognize all these short musical fragments from, amongst others, Peter Gabriel, Marillion, Yes, Asia, Genesis and Rush. They even altered a few words into 'prog': I Want To Know What Prog Is (Foreigner) and Invisible Prog (Genesis). The next song was Day On My Pillow. It was a bit strange for me to hear Yogi Lang singing some lines from the classic Genesis-piece I Know What I Like during this song. However, it was quite surprising to see the girl from the merchandise - doing normally the band's management - perform the lead vocals for the track Choose What You Want To Look At. I didn't even know that she could sing, but she turned out to be a real rock chick!

Bine Heller, guest vocal performance on Choose What You Want To Look At
After the show Bine Heller told me that she already did some guest performances on some RPWL-albums. It would have been nice if she also had sung on Roses because of the absence of Ray Wilson, the original singer, but I guess they hadn't thought of the idea! After the rather radio-friendly Roses it was time for the band to say goodbye. Hole In The Sky, the song that once introduced me to the band, was a great way to end this fantastic afternoon gig. Could there be a better way to end the show while dreaming away on the brilliant guitar parts of Kalle Wallner ' However, the audience asked for more and they got more! The band performed one of my favourite RPWL-pieces 3 Lights and I Don't Know for the final encore. During the last song Mr. Lang introduced all band members to the audience. They all deserved a warm applause for their stage performances on this well-spent Sunday afternoon. There's one musician in particular that has to be mentioned separately. Bass player Werner Taus had replaced Chris Postl just before this short tour and therefore he did an excellent job. He only had a couple of days to learn all Postl's bass and vocal parts. After the show, the other band members were very positive about his playing, so I think he'll become a permanent member of RPWL.

The reactions of the audience were also very positive. Some of them compared RPWL to acts as Marillion or Transatlantic and considered them to be even better than these two bands. Anyway, progressive rock music isn't a competition. All that matters is to enjoy fabulous music played from the heart and with a lot of passion. RPWL is a fine example of how neo-prog heads like their music the best.

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)


Start The Fire
Gentle Art Of Swimming
This Is Not A Prog Song
Try To Kiss The Sun
Day On My Pillow
Wasted Land
Choose What You Want To Look At
Hole In The Sky

Pictures RPWL by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up:

(left to right)
Markus Jehle:
Kalle Wallner:
guitars, backing vocals
Yogi Lang:
lead and backing vocals, keyboards,
Marc Turiaux:
Werner Taus:
bass, backing vocals
Bine Heller (not visible):
guest vocals

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