Progfarm Festival

November 5, 2011 - De Harmsdobbe, Bakkeveen (NL)

Sometimes it seems that certain things in life never change such as the first Saturday in November: Bakkeveen, a small village in the north of The Netherlands, then changes into the capitol of progressive rock. For just one day, the farm campsite De Harmsdobbe changes into a festival ground where five prog bands will perform. The audience attending this festival consists of almost the same people every year. Many visitors return to this annual event no matter what names are on the bill. This event is called Progfarm and it exists since 1997. However, during the fourteenth edition in 2010 (see review) the organizers - all band members of Dutch band Flamborough Head - made clear that the fifteenth anniversary edition might be the last one. When the line-up was presented for this year's edition this information unfortunately appeared to be true. It's sad because many prog bands made their debut on the Progfarm stage. I always considered it to be the best musical festival in The Netherlands and its surrounding countries. Alas, all this will soon be history, but there's still one edition to go.

Weather conditions were very good during the last edition of Progfarm. Unlike last year it was sold out, which means that about two-hundred people made the long trip to this special place. However, I don't think that the line-up was the main reason. Many people who cherish so much good memories of this prog feast, wanted to participate in this event for the last time.


Monique van der Kolk
This Spanish band opened the last Progfarm Festival; for the first time they gave a concert outside their homeland. Probably few people were familiar with Harvest's music. People who read articles on our website on a regular basis might be aware of the fact that they hail from Spain except for the female singer. Fourteen years ago Monique van der Kolk moved to Spain with her parents where she met Jordi Prats (guitars) and Jordi Amela (keyboards), two musicians of Dracma. They're also the founding members of Harvest. In 2009 the band released their debut album Underground Community (see review). For this album they covered Marillion's Waiting To Happen, a song they unfortunately didn't perform since they had already enough material of their own. However, the sound and musical style of Harvest sometimes moves in the direction of Marillion, but most songs from their debut can be labeled best as melodic prog rock. These songs aren't that difficult and hardly contain breaks and solos prog lovers enjoy so much. Although new tracks like the instrumental Moonquake, Stars and The Machine contain a number of elements I
Jordi Prats
enjoyed a lot. These tracks are more adventurous and will probably be recorded for their second album that will see the light of day early 2012. The track Stille Zwerver should be mentioned as well as it was sung in Dutch. It was recorded for a CD called Prog NL. On this album several Dutch acts sang progressive rock tunes in Dutch. The people behind this project from website Progwereld had asked Harvest to participate. It certainly was one of the band's highlights. The band gave a fine performance even when you take into account that not all tracks tickled the senses.

Flamborough Head

To date on all editions of Progfarm guest band Flamborough Head played third. However, due to the fact that most of the musicians of Toxic Smile arrived too late they changed places. Being the organizers of the festival they always seem to have some trouble keeping focused during their gig.
Margriet Boomsma
However, since they're skilled musicians the audience hardly notice these minor problems and enjoy a great live set. This set contained Rixt Fan't Oerd, another song from the CD Prog NL, but this time the lyrics weren't sung in Dutch. As the members of Flamborough Head hail from the province of Friesland, they wrote Frisian lyrics for this track. Frisian is the second official language in The Netherlands spoken by the people who originally live in this province. Strangely enough their whole set contained not yet recorded tracks except Rixt Fan't Oerd and the title track of their latest CD Looking For John Maddock. However, songs as The Trapper and Lost In Time I heard that often that I regard them already as classic FH-tracks. That also applies for the two brand new pieces Dancing Ledge and I'll Take The Blame. These tracks contain all the elements to become classic FH-tunes, especially the strong instrumental piece Dancing Ledge sounded superbly. The band members used the end of the set to thank the audience and the staff. Together they made a big success of Progfarm. This time the audience didn't applaud for the band, but the band thanked their loyal audience by giving them a well-deserved applause. 

Toxic Smile

I'm Your Saviour (see review), the latest album by the German band Toxic Smile, got the highest possible rating on our website. Nonetheless it seemed that not everybody could enjoy their music influenced by prog metal bands as Threshold and Dream Theater.
Larry B
I also noticed fusion and jazz-rock influences and sometimes the music made me think of Toto. Those who stayed during their gig saw a band that kicked ass, because their unforeseen absence last year gave them an extra drive to give a strong performance. The opening tune Change was the start of an entertaining set including a lot of humour. Especially the interaction between keyboard player Marek Arnold and lead singer Larry B made many people laugh. The last one hosted the show by sitting on a barstool. Only during the last songs he stretched his legs walking around the stage. Obviously the largest part of the set contained music from their latest record. Right from the start they proved that they were able to strongly perform the music of this album. It didn't matter whether the songs were up-tempo or mellow, the band could handle them all. During the Arabic sounding piece Pyramid, keyboardist Arnold decently played the saxophone as well. The audience requested a well-deserved encore and they choose to play Poles Apart. While listening to this track Anyone's Daughter, another German band popped up because they use about the same kind of electric piano sound on their records.


Expectations certainly ran high for Introitus from Sweden that had proved to be a band of an international quality level. Otherwise both of their albums Fantasy (see review) and Elements (see review) would not have
Anna Jobs Bender
been given the highest possible rating of five stars on our website. However, playing the music on a live stage is something different, but videos on their website showed that they were able to play fine versions of their sometimes complex music. I don't think they considered this trip to Bakkeveen as a holiday. You might think so because four out of seven members are related to each other. The man who's musically in charge is keyboard player Mats Bender; his wife Anna Jobs Bender is the lead singer. Their twenty-year old son Mattias plays the drums and eighteen-year old daughter Johanna does some of the backing vocals and plays occasionally some additional keyboards. The other three musicians are rather young as well; they're just in their twens. They don't rehearse on a weekly basis, but only a few times per month. If you take that into account they delivered an outstanding performance sounding rather professional. From their debut album Introitus played Genesis and Ghost. The
Henrik Björlind
remaining five pieces were all taken from the second album Elements. The three epics from this record appeared to be the highlights of the concert. I was rather curious to find out whether they could play a proper version of The Hand That Feeds You, because on the original album version they use many synthesizer and sequencer sounds in the intro, but surprisingly they came pretty close. During this piece not only Anna Jobs Bender provided for the lead vocals, but also her daughter Johanna stepped forward to take the lead. Well done! However, most appreciation was probably for Henrik Björlind. This young musician appeared to be a real multi-instrumentalist. It didn't matter whether he played the electric guitar, the violin, the flute, the many keyboard parts or synthesizer solos. He played them all professionally and as a skilled musician. All in all, the band can look back at a very satisfying concert. I guess they weren't even tired since rather soon after the concert they started their sixteen-hour trip back to Sweden.

Moon Safari

Initially the organizers had booked the Norwegian band Wobbler to do the final show for the last Progfarm Festival. However, only a couple of months before, their guitar player left the band and a replacement wasn't found in time, so unfortunately they had to cancel their trip. Sadly, because I consider their latest CD
Petter Sandström
Rites At Dawn (see review) to be one of the highlights of 2011, but that also applies for Lover's End (see review), the latest release of Moon Safari, who replaced Wobbler. I had seen the band in 2009 at the Symforce 3 Festival (see review) and at Prog-Résiste 2010 (see review). Both performances made a big impact on me because the band played just as good on a live stage as on their studio albums. However, Progfarm used to be the stage on which mainly international bands made their Dutch debut. Since Moon Safari already made their debut in The Netherlands I had rather seen a band that had never performed in our country. However, as soon as the band started with Lover's End, part I followed by A Kid Called Panic it became obvious that this band might be the perfect ending for the final Progfarm Festival. Strong pieces as Yasgur's Farm, Moonwalk and Other Half Of The Sky proved that a perfect live outfit performed on stage. They not only master their instruments to the full, but they had no problems at all to sing all the difficult close harmony parts. Vocal duets were all over
The acapella closure of 15 years of Progfarm
the place. Apparently easy keyboard player Simon Äkesson played his complex parts while singing the lead vocals simultaneously. Sure, his brother Sebastian Äkesson helped him out from time to time by taking over some of the keyboard parts and some additional backing vocals. Even the high temperatures on stage couldn't prevent Moon Safari from giving their best shot. Sweat dropped from their faces so the only way to cool down was drinking many bottles of cold water. I think the response from the audience kept them on stage. The people shouted for an encore after the strong regular set and they got it! The first one was the duo tune Doorway/Beyond The Door. The final encore was done acapella using only their voices. The six voices together sounded like a real barbershop sextet. The way they sang the intro of Southern Belle and Constant Bloom left everybody speechless. Wow! This surely was a perfect way to end the long series of Progfarm concerts. This most intimate festival of the last fifteen years will be remembered forever by all who attended it. Just amazing!

Since I started reviewing the annual Progfarm Festival my final words were always: Progfarm still remains the best progressive rock festival of The Netherlands. But this time these words seem rather strange. Therefore it only remains for me to say: thanks to all the people responsible for the fifteen editions of this legendary festival that brought us many great bands. Thanks again for that! On the first Saturday in November, life will never be the same!

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

Setlist Harvest:

Post Disaster
The Horizon
Beyond The Desert
In Debris
No Return
Stille Zwerver
Change Life
Interrupted Broadcast
The Story of Tim Ballas
The Machine

Pictures Harvest by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up Harvest:

(left to right)
Roger Vilageliu:
Jordi Amela:
Monique van der Kolk:
lead and background vocals
Jordi Prats:
Alex Ojea:

Setlist Flamborough Head:

The Trapper
Looking For John Maddock
Rixt Fan't Oerd
Dancing Ledge
Lost In Time
I'll Take The Blame

Pictures Flamborough Head

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up Flamborough Head:

(L to R, picture by Henri Strik)
Gert Polkerman:
lead guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Edo Spanninga:
Margriet Boomsma:
lead vocals, recorders, flute, acoustic guitar
Koen Roozen:
drums, percussion
Marcel Derix:
bass guitar

Setlist Toxic Smile:

Pride And Joy
Endless Cycle
The Abyss
Could It Be
I'm Your Saviour
Poles Apart

Pictures Toxic Smile by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up Toxic Smile:

(L to R, picture by Henri Strik)
Larry B:
lead and backing vocals
Marek Arnold:
keyboards, saxophone, backing vocals
Robert Brenner:
bass & backing vocals
Robert Eisfeld:
Uwe Reinholz:

Setlist Introitus:

Like Always
The Hand That Feeds You

Pictures Introitus by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up Introitus:

(left to right)
Mats Bender:
Anna Jobs Bender:
lead vocals and backing vocals
Johanna Bender:
percussion, keyboard, lead and backing vocals
Henrik Björlind:
guitars, keyboards, flute, violin, backing vocals
Pär Helje:
lead guitars, backing vocals
Dennis Lindqvist:
bass guitar
Mattias Bender:

Setlist Moon Safari:

Lover's End Part I
A Kid Called Panic
Yasgur's Farm
The World's Best Dreamers
New York City Summergirl
Other Half Of The Sky

Doorway/Beyond The Door
Intro Southern Belle
Constant Bloom

Pictures Moon Safari by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up Moon Safari:

(left to right)
Simon Äkesson:
main keyboards, lead and backing vocals
Johan Westerlund:
bass, backing vocals
Tobias Lundgrun:
drums, backing vocals
Petter Sandström:
acoustic guitar, lead and backing vocals
Sebastian Äkesson:
keyboards, backing vocals
Pontus Åkesson:
lead guitars, backing vocals

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