Nazomer Open Air - ENorm

September 17, 2011, Kleinsman, Enschede (NL)

The Dutch progressive rock band Marathon, mainly influenced by bands as Saga, Marillion and Rush, released in the nineties two excellent studio albums: The First Run (1994) and Norm (1996). Unfortunately their live album Marathon Live (1996) was also their farewell album. They decided to split up in two different bands: La Villa was going to continue the progressive rock style and e-Norm would perform more radio-friendly music. From that moment on I lost contact and my interest in both bands. In the meantime e-Norm became ENorm and the musicians that originated from Marathon felt once more the need to play the music of their former band.
Erik ten Bos (and brother Ronald in the background)
After rehearsing the Marathon-repertoire they were ready to enter the stage to play the old stuff. The excellent performance at the third day of the iO Pages Festival at De Boerderij in Zoetermeer and the performance as a support-act for Saga at Hedon in Zwolle, both confirmed that they were on the right track.

On September 17 the band had organized a special event. They called it Nazomer Open Air (Late Summer Open Air) held at a perfect location in Enschede in the eastern part of The Netherlands. It was the first try-out of a special gig playing their own material supplemented with songs from Rush, Saga, Marillion, Alan Parsons Project and Genesis. For me, it was the right moment to check out whether they were able to play the fantastic music of Marathon in the same way as they did in the nineties. It was also a renewed encounter with old friends of which some of them I hadn't seen for years.

As soon as I entered the location I was very warmly welcomed by lead singer Eric ten Bos, guitarist Ronald ten Bos and drummer Ferry Bult who all played in the last line-up of Marathon before they formed e-Norm in 2003. They'd just finished a final rehearsal with keyboardist Martin Platenkamp and bassist Liejondo Nijhuis, the two other band members. Guitarist Leon Westenberg was on holiday; later on I heard that he didn't care that much missing this try-out since Marathon's music isn't really his cup of tea.
Ronald ten Bos (and Martin Platenkamp in the background)

After some drinking and talking, they were ready to do their first set starting with the fine ballad Horizon, a song that will be released on their forthcoming special edition of Between The Acts. Teacher, one of the other new songs they performed, will appear on this release as well. After playing the new ENorm material, sometimes related to the music of Coldplay and Bruce Springsteen, it was finally time for Patterns Of The Landscapes, the first Marathon-tune and undoubtedly one of my favourites; they performed it like in the old days. At the end of this set Ronald ten Bos told me that this is one of the best songs he'd ever written. They ended the first set with an excellent version of Humble Stance, a classic Saga-track. Especially Martin Platenkamp's keyboard parts made this track very enjoyable to listen to.

The second set started again with a Marathon-tune. Ozone Layer proved that this line-up could wonderfully perform this excellent prog stuff. During the song singer Eric ten Bos accidentally dropped his microphone on the floor, a rather funny mistake, but I think nobody blamed him for this. This set also featured the Marathon-piece Casanovas. The sound of an accordion provided the song with a French flavour bringing the audience in a holiday mood. The rendition of Eye In The Sky and Old And Wise, two covers of The Alan Parsons Project, showed again that these musicians are real professionals. They ended the second set with three covers of Marillion: the twin song Kayleigh/Lavender sounded rather good, but especially Easter got an excellent version. The way Ronald ten Bos played the marvellous guitar solo of Steve Rothery was really breathtaking!

The final set opened with another classic Marathon-track. They performed Medicine Man without the soundscapes of the African tribe for that matter, but I didn't miss them at all. The many influences of Saga in this tune formed a great introduction to the second Saga-cover. Just as Humble Stance, On The Loose got a perfect rendition. Bravo! And also a big compliment for the perfect drum solo by Ferry Bult.
The band
Normally I'm not fond of drum solos, but this time it prevented me from doing the usual toilet break, because I really enjoyed it. Three ENorm pieces were included in the last set. One of the three had a very emotional content. Zoe deals with the unforeseen death of a young girl, a song that will also make it to Between The Acts. For the Genesis-cover Mama they'd sampled the original drum patterns. Singer Eric ten Bos did his utmost to approach the vocals of Phil Collins in which he succeeded very well. Another classic Marathon-track turned out to be the final song of the concert. Beyond The Veil from Marathon's debut album The First Run, seemed to be well-known to the audience. The sing along part at the end made me think about the nineties when Marathon entered the Dutch stages for the first time. Then this song used to be the finale of most Marathon-gigs and it was again enthusiastically performed. It was funny to see that Eric hadn't forgotten the steps he made then. His voice is as good as in the old days, to some people even better. He's a stunning entertainer who gave the audience a kind of beer shower before the final piece. He could rely on a superb live band.

Looking back at this event, the first try-out gig of the 'new' Marathon was a great success. Both the music and the weather were good and the snacks offered while the band performed, were welcomed by the audience. It was a perfect show even without the usual encore!

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)


Set 1:
High Above
Patters Of The Landscape
Humble Stance

Set 2:
Ozone Layer
Eye In The Sky
Old And Wise
Happy And Alive

Set 3:
Medicine Man
On The Loose
Drum solo
Brown Sugar
Beauty Of Silence
Beyond The Veil

Pictures by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up:

Liejondo Nijhuis:
Ferry Bult:
Ronald ten Bos:
guitars, backing vocals
Eric ten Bos:
lead vocals, percussion
Frank Kleinsman:
venue owner (website)
Martin Platenkamp:

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