Franck Carducci & Band

March 11, 2012 - 't Blok, Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel (NL)

In 2008 Franck Carducci moved from Lyon to Amsterdam. At the time he couldn't know that only three years later he would record one of the most surprising albums of 2011 called ODDITY (see review). When I asked him (see interview) if he intended to go on tour in order to promote the album, he told me that he was longing to do so. Carducci also said that the ODDITY-tour would start in November 2011 in The Netherlands and Belgium. Later on he also wanted to do some gigs in France, Germany, UK and Italy. Therefore he had put together
Franck Carducci
an international band featuring French drummer Toff 'Crazy monk', German guitar virtuoso Michael Strobel, who played the lead guitar on Alice's Eerie Dream on ODDITY, Dutch guitarist Roy van Oost and British keyboardist Tom Smith. Franck would play the bass and the twelve-string guitar. He would add some classics to the set list as well, but he didn't tell me which ones.

Now, almost a year later Franck Carducci made his way in the world since the release of his solo debut. It seemed that he has become an international rock star. His album got raving reviews all over the world and he gave several concerts abroad. Since I interviewed Franck I was curious to know how he and his band would perform the music of his debut live on stage. I waited to visit an appropriate venue not that far from my home town to see him perform. Finally a Sunday afternoon gig had been organized by the people of ProgFrog at 't Blok in Nieuwerkerk aan de IJssel. This appeared to be the most suitable place to check out if Franck Carducci had become a rock star on stage as well.

The black curtains at the venue were still closed when the tape with the intro started. It sounded as if it was taken from a movie score. Soon it was followed by Achilles, the opening piece from ODDITY making clear that the musicians on stage were very capable of performing the music of this album. Second track The Quind got a fantastic live version as well. After this piece the band played Harlequin, a song I'd never heard before. It was written and sung by guitarist Roy van Oost. It turned out to be a solid progressive rock tune that started in the vein of Back In N.Y.C. (Genesis), but it also contained slight influences of Marillion's music including a wonderful guitar solo. Next was Alice's Eerie Dream, another piece from ODDITY, but before they began Mr. Carducci explained why he wore such a funny hat. Alice's Eerie Dream is a rather funny story based on the book Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. This time Alice got lost in Wonderland and was kidnapped by the wicked Red Queen who turned her into a hooker. This piece was greatly performed and included the participation of the audience. Next was Watch Me Fly, another new piece written by guitarist Michael Strobel, who did the lead vocals as well. This song sounded rather mainstream maybe due to the fact that Strobel's musical background differs from Franck Carducci's.

From L to R: Roy, Franck and Toff
During a performance in Belgium − with John Hackett in the line-up − Franck opened for The Watch and he was asked to do a progressive rock classic. He enjoyed it that much that he decided to perform it during this concert as well, but first he needed a leather jacket. This could only mean that a piece from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway was next. Franck handed over his bass guitar to Roy van Oost in order to have more room to play the role of Rael in Back In N.Y.C. Well, he looked like a real entertainer, but I don't think that the combination of the jacket and the clothes he wore was a perfect one. Nevertheless, this cover was marvellously done. I expected his version of The Carpet Crawlers, which is also on ODDITY, to be next but instead he did Journey Through The Mind, a song that he used to play with Yanne Matis. Hopefully we can enjoy this fantastic piece of prog rock on his next solo album.

The final song of the regular set is also the final track of ODDITY excluding the bonus tracks of course. The Last Oddity got a great rendition with some additional improvised parts; he also improvised during the main parts of the requested encore. I expected him to play some nice prog rock tunes, but sadly he didn't. Instead he played Helter Skelter (The Beatles) and Whipping Post (The Allman Brothers Band). The latter was performed the way Frank Zappa used to cover it with a surprising element. While playing the fire alarm went off which made a sound as if it was performed by the musicians. The musicians were aware of the fact that this wasn't supposed to happen, but they played on as real professionals. They ended this strong afternoon concert with the introduction of the musicians that made it possible to perform ODDITY live on stage. The only track, however, they didn't perform was The Eyes Of Age.

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)


The Quind
Alice's Eerie Dream
Watch Me Fly
Back In N.Y.C.
Journey Through The Mind
The Last Oddity

Helter Skelter
Whipping Post

Pictures by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up:

(left to right)
Roy van Oost:
guitars, bass guitar, lead and backing vocals
Toff 'Crazy Monk':
drums and backing vocals
Franck Carducci:
bass, double neck bass/twelve-string guitar, lead and backing vocals.
Michael Strobel:
guitars, lead and backing vocals
Tom Smith:

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