March 13, 2011 - 't Blok, Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel (NL)

From time to time the people of Gebouw 't Blok at Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel - calling themselves Progfrogs - organize a Sunday afternoon gig. Initially they had booked Dutch band For Absent Friends, but due to unforeseen circumstances this band wasn't able to play. So on short notice they asked the outstanding Belgian prog rock band M!ndgames who were willing to play for a small, but enthusiastic audience. The last time I witnessed M!ndgames on a live stage, I missed the epic piece Royalty In Jeopardy. It was left out of the concert they gave in Utrecht in 2010 (see review) because then they formed part of a triple concert. This meant that they had less time to show all their musical talents to a Dutch audience. For me, the absence of this classic epic was one of the reasons to attend this performance of M!ndgames. I hoped they would include it when more playing time was available. This time they were the only band playing at a rather new venue in the western part of The Netherlands.

M!ndgames once more proved to be a very professional outfit that had no problems at all to play the songs from their three so far released albums on a live stage. However, the set list was dominated by their latest effort; all songs from MXX (2010) were performed even in the same order as the track list on the album. In between they performed material from International Daylight (2002) and from their masterpiece Actors In A Play (2006). The first highlight of this concert was taken from the latter. The Statue gave me shivers down my spine caused by the superb performance. The church organ intro played by Tom Truyers was breathtaking. This also applied for the guitar parts by Rudy Vander Veken who can play fine melodic solos as well as great riffs. After the show bass player Maximilian von Wüllerstorff told me that The Statue is one of the most difficult tracks to play live. I guess you have to be a professional musician to judge how complex this piece is, because to me it looked as if it was just a piece of cake! The second highlight was Travels from MXX. The difficult time signatures and strong instrumental parts made this a fantastic epic piece. Unfortunately Beggars Breakfast was the only song taken from International Daylight. Sadly that they didn't play more tracks from this album that brought Belgium back on the prog map.

Lead singer Bart Schram introduced The Pendulum as being the last song of the concert. The reaction of the audience was unanimous for they didn't like that at all. The music and snacks that were served - without any cost - had brought them in a very good mood. It was too soon to call it a day, so they wanted more strong progressive rock music although Bart Schram told the audience that The Pendulum was one of their longest pieces of music with an outstanding climax to end a performance in style.

Personally, I was more concerned about the fact that they hadn't played my favourite track Royalty In Jeopardy yet. I had already given up hope when Mr. Schram entered the stage once more with a crown in his hands while saying 'look what I've found'. After all I was the luckiest guy in the audience that afternoon.
It had been a long time since I saw the act of the king and I wondered how Bart Schram would play this special part this time. According to the reactions in the audience he succeeded very well. Dressed in a king's cloak he threw chocolate coins into the audience. Not only children picked up the coins from the floor, but also many adults were in for this chocolate treat. This third highlight consummated the band's performance, but surprisingly the musicians were ready to do another encore. The long epic piece Both Sides Of The Show was next. An epic with a perfect ending: the kind of climax you can hear in a song as Afterglow by Genesis.

This Sunday afternoon gig proved to be a real happening. It was very well organized by the Progfrog-people. I hope they will contract more strong prog acts like M!ndgames. In that case they'll find me more often at this venue on a Sunday afternoon. No doubt about that!

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)


The Source
Glory Of Night
The Statue
In My Humble Opinion
Outside The Gloom
Beggars Breakfast
Destination Sky
The Pendulum

Royalty In Jeopardy
Both Sides Of The Show

Pictures M!ndgames by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up:

(left to right)
Tom Truyers:
Bart Schram:
lead vocals, acoustic 12 string guitar
Maximilian von Wüllerstorff:
bass guitar
Rudy Vander Veken:
electric guitars, acoustic six string guitar
Benny Petak:
drums, electronic percussion
Janke Rijkema:
Background Magazine reviewer

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