March 9, 2014 - 't Blok, Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel

During the first weekend of March I visited 't Blok in Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel for the second time within two weeks' time for a concert organized by Progfrog. A fortnight ago I saw a great performance by the French musician Franck Carducci and his amazing live band (see review). This time I went to this venue to watch the Dutch prog band PBII. Since all Progfrog concerts are held during daytime, most band members of PBII and their fans were sitting outside the building thanks to the fine weather with a temperature of almost 20 C, which is quite exceptional in the Netherlands at the beginning of March. After a warm welcome it was finally showtime for the people who visited the concert to enjoy two sets by PBII.

Ruud Slakhorst
The first set included the music of their latest record, the masterpiece 1000Wishes (2013, see review), but without the orchestra of course. This album got a lot of attention in the media because of its musical concept about children's cancer (see interview PBII). I had already witnessed the complete rock opera including the orchestra and actors twice (see review) and I'd seen the 'band only' version once during the finale of the Dutch Exposure competition (see review). At the time they gave an excellent show at Xinix in Nieuwendijk where they told the story in between the songs while using back stage projections. This time the facilities at the venue prevented them to visualize the story, but they added more songs from their latest studio album to the set list. Therefore the first part of the show lasted eighty minutes.

During the first set PBII used backing tapes containing the studio recordings of the orchestra, the voices of the narrator and Eric, the child who is the protagonist in this rock opera. By using those tapes it was difficult for the band to perform 1000Wishes, although they succeeded rather well in playing along with the studio recordings. Anyway it was a pleasure to see them excel on stage. Especially the vocal performances of Nathalie Mees (soprano and backing vocals) and Ruud Slakhorst (lead vocals) were of a high level. However, I may not forget the great
Nathalie Mees
instrumentalists of the band, since Ronald Brautigam (guitars), Michel van Wassem (keyboards, backing vocals), Tom van der Meulen (drums) and Alex van Elswijk (bass guitar, bass pedals, keyboard) marvellously played their instruments. Unfortunately few visitors attended this gig, but the ones who came to see PBII saw an enjoyable first set!

After a short break the audience could witness a pleasant second set as well. People who are familiar with the band's back catalogue got a fantastic musical trip back in time. They started with After The Battle, a composition written in the eighties when the band was called Plackband. After a fine rendition of this song they continued with Book Of Changes, a piece of music from PBII's critically acclaimed debut album Plastic Soup (2010, see review). During this song keyboard player Michel van Wassem took care of some of the lead vocal parts, just like he did on the studio version.

Next was Seventy Warriors, another Plackband tune released in the late seventies as a single. It was the band's only hard evidence on vinyl. Although the vocal parts on this song differed from the original version it wasn't less enjoyable. Especially the guitar solo by Ronald Brautigam was just great, but after the show he told me that it could have been done much better. He also said that the band had a lot of pleasure playing Tiger, the final song of the concert. This song was supposed to be the final encore of the show, but the band didn't wait for the audience to ask them back on stage and performed it right after they'd finished the last Plackband piece. Tiger was written by lead singer Ruud Slakhorst for his girlfriend, who eventually became his wife. At the time he fronted the Dutch band Edge Of Sanity. Tiger sounded superb, a fine up-tempo piece with some Yes influences.

Well, again I watched a progressive rock concert that not only sounded great, but was also well-organized by the Progfrog team. As usual we were treated to snacks, which were gratefully consumed by the people in the audience, while on stage PBII succeeded in entertaining them during two well-performed sets.

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

Live video

   by Henri & Roel Strik

X Never Old (8:22)
A Perfect Day (10:28)
X After The Battle (10:47)

Setlist PBII:

Set 1:
Perfect Day
Never Old
Eric's Dream
Land Of Thousand Wishes
Evil Weed
The Loss
Into The Light
Parental Thoughts
Grand Finale
Set 2:
After The Battle
Book Of Changes
Seventy Warriors

Pictures PBII by Arthur Haggenburg

>>> Click here to view all pics on one page.

Click on the picture to enlarge.


Line up PBII:

(left to right)
Ronald Brautigam:
electric guitars
Michel van Wassem:
keyboards, backing vocals
Nathalie Mees:
soprano vocals, backing vocals
Ruud Slakhorst:
lead vocals
Tom van der Meulen:
Alex van Elswijk:
bass guitar, bass pedals, keyboard

All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2014