10th Convention Prog-Résiste
Day 2

Moon Safari - Overhead
Gens De La Lune - The Watch

October 9, 2010, Spirit of 66, Verviers (B)

I would like to congratulate the people of Prog-Résiste who managed to organize for the tenth time in a row a special progressive rock convention at The Spirit Of 66 in Verviers. In this nice town in the Belgian Ardennes, they again contracted a number of fantastic bands in the weekend of October 9th. For me, the bands that performed on Saturday were the most interesting ones to witness. Thanks to a kind invitation from the organizers, I was able to witness Moon Safari, Overhead, Gens De La Lune and The Watch

Moon Safari

Swedish band Moon Safari was the first band to perform. It was almost three PM when they entered the stage in the same line-up as they performed during the last Symforce Festival in 2009 in The Netherlands. That performance had made a great impact on me back then. Moon Safari started with the first part of the title track of their forthcoming third studio album. This piece showed that we had something to look out for. If the next album Lover's End contains more of such great prog tunes than we got nothing to worry about! After this new track they welcomed the audience. Of course, The Spirit Of 66 has the best audience in the world (...) and Belgium has the finest beers in the world (...) Well, at least the last remark is true. After a few notes of Yasgur's Farm they stopped and lead singer Petter Sandström wanted first to introduce 'the greatest band of the world (...)' in the capital of prog rock (...). Well, I'm not sure whether Verviers is the capital of prog or whether Moon Safari are the greatest band in the world, but who am I to judge! The next piece was introduced by bass player Johan Westerlund as a sing-along tune. Personally I wouldn't have called Moonwalk such a tune, because it has everything that a great progressive rock song must have. Fine solos on the electric guitar and synthesizer, fabulous sampled Mellotron-choirs and wonderful singing. They nicely ended the song with a small part of The Beatles' hit She Loves You. It was a tribute to the late John Lennon (1940), who was murdered by Mark Chapman on December 8, 1980. Otherwise, he would have reached the age of seventy today... Two more tracks from their second album Blomljud (2008) were next before they left the stage. The Ghost Of Flowers Past and Other Half Of The Sky were performed with a lot of passion and joy. Both songs sounded almost perfect, but just as last year, I noticed some minor mistakes in the clever harmony vocals done by all five musicians during the last song of the regular set. But I have to admit: a barbershop quartet or The Beach Boys couldn't have done any better. Bravo, Moon Safari for delivering such tasteful vocal acrobatics. The people who went outside the building were even treated on an a capella version of Constant Bloom after the show. Before this 'performance' the band came back on stage for an encore. I had missed the medley Doorway / Beyond The Door from their debut album (2005) during the regular set, so I was very glad that they ended their Belgian show with the oldest song of the band's repertoire. For me, this concert was from beginning to end a musical highlight that set a high standard for the other bands that day.   


Next were the musicians of Finnish band Overhead. For me, it was the first time to witness a performance of this band, but unfortunately they couldn't do better than their predecessors. They entered the stage by saying: 'Hello, crazy Belgians'. Well, I'm not sure if that was meant to be a compliment, but the audience liked it anyway! That also applied for the first notes of the opening piece Metaepitome that was welcomed with great acclaim. The track was performed in a rather strong way, but I think some parts might have been stolen from Child In Time (Deep Purple). The many U2 and Jethro Tull-influences were present as well during the performance of this tune. The Tull-influences are very obvious if you have a lead singer who looks and sounds like a younger version of Ian Anderson and who plays the flute as well. The only difference was that Alex Keskitalo didn't stand on one leg while playing the flute. Besides playing this instrument and good singing, he produced several sound effects by pressing different buttons on a strange kind of apparatus (see picture). The set performed at The Spirit was mainly a collection of songs taken from their second and third studio album: Metaepitome (2005) and And We're Not Here After All (2008). It seemed that the band had already begun working on the next album as well, because we could enjoy several new songs. They introduced Berlin while joking about a town in Germany called Ausfahrt. They could read the name of this town on all traffic signs, but they couldn't find it anyhow... The other new piece was Grunge / Lost Inside part II. Both tracks had the typical Overhead-sound known from their previous albums. This new piece was followed by the King Crimson-song 21st Century Schizoid Man, one of the highlights on the DVD Live After All. At The Spirit Of 66 this song got a strong rendition as well. Especially guitarist Jaako Kettunen showed that he could easily handle the difficult, but well-played guitar parts. Unfortunately, the improvised keyboard solo by Tarmo Simonen didn't impress me at all. In Poland, he did a better job for the DVD-recordings. After playing the long piece Dawn taken from their second album, the band didn't return for an encore. They certainly deserved one, but the organization needed more time to get the stage ready for the next band.

Gens De La Lune

Gens De La Lune hails from France and for me it was one of the main reasons to make this trip to Verviers. The music recorded for their debut album (see review) impressed me a lot. The band was founded by keyboard player Francis Décamps, one of the original members of Ange and therefore it wasn't that strange that the band's musical style moved in direction of the way Ange sounded in the seventies. In those days, Décamps was partly responsible for the fact that Ange was often called the French Genesis. Today, Francis is still proud of this heritage, so the audience could witness a selection of classic Ange-songs that had been included during the performance of Gens de La Lune. They started with Fils De Lumiere followed by Hymn Á La Vie. In-between these two pieces we could enjoy a short solo by the new drummer Cédric Mells. During the intro of Hymn, Francis was so kind as to introduce the band members who are all very talented musicians as I could learn during the remainder of the concert. That started with two new tracks that will be released on a new album which is due for March 2011. Owing to serious problems in the recording studio the forthcoming album will be released a couple of months later than initially was planned. The new material made me very curious about the other songs for the new album. Favourites as Santanas, L'Oeil and Le Guide were performed with a lot of passion and joy. Especially lead singer Jean Phillippe Suzan is a real eye-catcher. He has a very strong voice reminding me of a younger version of Christian Décamps. His brother Francis certainly is another eye-catcher since he was dressed like an undertaker and his face was covered
with paint. His acting role behind the keyboards was impressive and almost scared the children in front of the stage. After the regular set, the band returned on stage to perform some encores. Well, they deserved it because the band's performance was breathtaking. First, they played a splendid acoustic version of the title track of their eponymous debut album. Francis stepped away from behind the keyboards and played on his acoustic guitar. C'No Péran, the opening piece of the same album was next. It was a chance for the audience to sing along and to pay attention to the members of the organizing Prog-Résiste team. They were all invited on stage in order to render a vocal contribution to the song. It was a perfect ending of an amazing performance from a band that relives the past in a pleasant way!

The Watch

That also applies for the fourth band to perform: The Watch from Italy. The band already did two tribute tours performing Genesis-songs of the Peter Gabriel- era. According to the reviews (see concert reviews) of these performances they're able to copy Genesis perfectly. Drummer Marco Fabbri told me before this gig that many self-written songs of The Watch would be included in the live set. And he didn't lie as I could witness later on during their excellent performance. They even started with two songs of their own: Shining Bald Heads and Damage Mode. After those pieces the first cheers could be heard as lead singer Simone Rossetti introduced the Genesis-song Can-Utility And The Coastliners which they performed in a perfect way. That applied for the other covers during the regular set as well. Outstanding renditions of The Musical Box and In The Cage were done, but without all the attributes Mr. Gabriel used to have on stage. Maybe The Watch played the Genesis-music in a way Genesis would have liked to play it too. Without all the costumes and the props you get more focused on this great music, I experienced. It's also evident that the band members of The Watch are all excellent musicians who are in fact multi-instrumentalists. I would make a special remark for bass player Guglielmo Mariotti. The way he switched from a double necked guitar to a bass guitar and playing the bass pedals almost at the same time was incredible. It was obvious that the band couldn't leave without an encore. Organizer Pierre Romainville helped the audience a bit by singing the lyrics of another well-known Genesis-piece: 'walking across the sitting-room, I turn the television off...' The audience followed soon and started to sing: 'sitting beside you, I look into your eyes...' It was a sign for The Watch to return back on stage and Rosetti told the audience that it was their job to sing this song.
With a big smile on his face he said that Supper's Ready was originally written in 1982... However, you can't fool a prog audience, because most of them knew that this outstanding epic was released in 1972. The musicians were still not allowed to finish their live set after this epic. The audience kept asking for more. With the set list in his hands, Mr. Rossetti said that all songs were performed. Some people screamed for The Knife and at last they got what they wanted. The big hand of the clock slowly moved towards the midnight hour when they again performed this great tune from Trespass (1970). And so a wonderful day in Belgium ended with four marvelous concerts performed by great progressive rock bands. A big hand for the people who got this great line-up together!

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)  

Setlist Moon Safari:

Lover's End Part I
Yasgur's Farm
Ghost Of Flowers Past
Other Half Of The Sky

Doorway/Beyond The Door

Pictures Moon Safari by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up Moon Safari:

(left to right)
Tobias Lundgrun:
drums, backing vocals
Johan Westerlund:
bass, backing vocals
Pontus Ĺkesson:
lead guitars, backing vocals
Petter Sandström:
acoustic guitar, lead and backing vocals
Simon Äkersson:
keyboards, lead & backing vocals

(picture is taken outside the venue while Moon Safari is singing a capella)

Setlist Overhead:

A Methode..
...To The Madness
A Captain On The Shore
Grunge-Lost Inside Part II
21st Century Schizoid Man

Pictures Overhead by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up Overhead:

(left to right)
Ville Sjöblom:
Jaako Kettunen:
guitars, backing vocals
Alex Keskitalo:
lead vocals, flute, electronic sound devices
Jaakko Pylkkönen:
bass guitar
Tarmo Simonen:

Setlist Gens De La Lune:

Alors Joue
Quel Désastre!
Nég' Blanc
Fils De Lumiere/Hymn Á La Vie
No Comment
Le Guide

Gens De La Lune (encore)
C'No Péran (Encore)

Pictures Gens De La Lune by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up Gens De La Lune:

(left to right)
Cédric Mells:
Damien Chopard:
guitars, backing vocals
Jean Phillippe Suzan:
lead vocals, percussion
Francis Décamps:
keyboards, acoustic guitar,
lead and backing vocals
James Kass:
bassguitar, backing vocals

Setlist The Watch:

Shining Bald Heads
Damage Mode
Can-Utility And The Coastliners
DN Alien
The Musical Box
In The Cage
Soaring On

Supper's Ready
The Knife

Pictures The Watch by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up The Watch:

(left to right)
Giorgio Gabriel:
electric and acoustic guitars
Marco Fabbri:
drums, backing vocals
Simone Rossetti:
lead vocals, flute and tambourine
Valerio De Vittorio:
keyboards, acoustic guitar and backing vocals
Guglielmo Mariotti:
bassguitar, acoustic guitar, bass pedals, backing vocals

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