November 10, 2013
Muziekcentrum De Bosuil, Weert (NL)

In the nineties the Polish neo-progressive rock band Collage recorded some amazing albums. Especially Moonshine (1994) became an international success. To me this album is a true masterpiece and
Karol Wroblewski
one of the best prog rock albums ever recorded in Poland. At the time their fans in the Netherlands probably felt the same. The concerts Collage gave in our country were always welcomed with the kind of excitement that could only be seen during the heydays of The Beatles, as it were. Back then the band members were completely overwhelmed by all the attention they got. The songs from their studio albums were excellently performed live on stage. I guess many prog heads were very disappointed when Collage called it a day after the rather disappointing successor Safe (1995). This record contained more experimental music and as a consequence the magic more or less has disappeared.

From the ashes of Collage other bands arose like Satellite, Believe, Mr. Gil, Peter Pan and Strawberry Fields. Sometimes these bands reached the same quality level as Collage. However, I always felt that they quit too soon and I wished that they would reunite one day. Well, this finally happened in 2013. The musicians started to rehearse for a comeback tour and began to write new material for an album to be released in May 2014. Fortunately they hadn't forgotten that they were the most successful in the Netherlands and therefore the band booked a one-off concert at venue De Bosuil in Weert, which is a perfect location for prog rock concerts. Everything at this venue is well-arranged and the audience can watch the bands at close range, which makes it easy to take as many pictures you want without someone asking you for a photo pass! I was very curious to find out how Collage's music currently sounds after an absence of nearly twenty years!

As in the old days the band started with Heroes Cry, the opening piece of Moonshine. This is a perfect song to start a concert with by its impressive keyboard intro that brought me immediately in the right mood. Most of the musicians on stage looked familiar,
Mirek Gil and Piotr Witkowski
and it seems they hadn't aged that much. Also the way they played their instruments was still the same: the fast drum parts of Wojtek Szadkowski, the melodic guitar playing of Mirek Gil, the string synthesizer parts of Krzysztof Palczewska and the relaxed bass playing of Piotr 'Mintay' Witkowski. However, one musician was missing namely lead singer Robert Amirian with his excellent voice and his very long hair. He was the one who always felt slightly uncomfortable by the warm reception of Collage in the nineties. After the show one of the musicians told me that Amirian was tired of touring; he rather stayed at home. He was replaced by Karol Wroblewski who appeared to be a great singer and above all a better entertainer on stage. Of course his voice differs from Amirian's voice thus the old songs sounded differently. For people who don't know Karol Wroblewski: he's the lead singer with Believe, one of the bands that guitarist Mirek Gil had formed after Collage broke up.

After the strong opening Heroes Cry I hoped that they would continue playing the album Moonshine in its entirety. But that will always be a dream that, who knows, one day will come true. For now they continued with a number of songs from Safe and the band's debut Basnie (1990). As far as the lyrics are concerned the songs from Basnie were difficult to understand because they were sung in the Polish language. For that reason pieces like Ja I Ty, Kotysanka and Jeszcze Jeden Dzien
Mirek Gil, using a beer glass
sounded a bit strange compared to the other songs. But don't get me wrong: these songs were by no means less interesting as they contain the same musical ingredients as the other ones! During a large part of the concert the audience sang the intro of Living In The Moonlight, one of the excellent pieces from Moonshine. Well, after performing The Blues, the title track and War Is Over, the closing track of Moonshine, they finally had their way during the first encore followed by God, a track from the John Lennon tribute album Nine Songs Of John Lennon (1993).

During the latter song, Mr. Gil could again show that he's an excellent guitar player. His guitar solo, for which he used a beer glass, was breathtaking and finished an excellent concert performed by a band that didn't belong to the prog rock scene way too long. Even without the 'hysterical' scenes in the past they can still present an amazing show! Hopefully they will return next year when the new album will be released. That would be great!

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

Live video

by Henri & Roel Strik

X Heroes Cry (6:48)

X Moonshine (16:49)

X Living in the Moonlight (4:58)

Setlist Collage:

Heroes Cry
Ja I Ty
One Of Their Kind
The Blues
Eight Kisses
Jeszcze Jeden Dzien
War Is Over
Living In The Moonlight

Pictures Collage by Arthur Haggenburg

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Click on the picture to enlarge.


Line up Collage:

(left to right)
Mirek Gil:
electric and acoustic guitars
Wojtek Szadkowski:
Karol Wroblewski:
lead vocals
Krzysztof Palczewska:
Piotr 'Mintay' Witkowski:
bass and acoustic guitar

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