Rule! & N

May 10, 2014 - De Selskap, Goor (NL)

While the weather wasn't very good with tons of rain coming from the sky and most people were watching the 2014 Eurovision Contest on TV, I made my way to a, to me, rather unknown Dutch progressive rock band. The band calls themselves Rule! and comes from the Eastern part of the Netherlands. Some of their members already played in bands such as Chelson Wells, Zenith and Shadowplay. The location the band would perform wasn't the usual place for a band to do their musical tricks. Instead of a real venue with the usual attributes - such as a real stage and a bar - this time the place was a kind of factory hall located in an industrial area, however a real stage was made and a small bar had been erected as well. All-in-all, everything was prepared very well to give the invited guests a real pleasant evening with music and drinks. Before the headliners would climb the stage, a support act from Germany kicked off the evening.


Under the moniker of N performs the in Dortmund based German musician Helmut Neidhardt not the usual kind of music which I listen to on a regular basis. With only one electric guitar and a rack of electronic devices N played soundscapes and
Helmutt Neidhardt
psychedelic guitar bites. The music he played in front of his audience could be compared to the music which Tangerine Dream made in the seventies when they were one of the early pioneers in the history of electronic music. The same kind of drones could be heard. Just like Tangerine Dream in those days the music didn't have much variety and sounded for me the same all the time. Furthermore the volume was way too loud and the interaction with his audience was very little while he sat on the stage with his face to the floor. This made most of guests decide to escape outside the building to take a cigarette or to have a chat with some of the other guests. Frankly speaking I was glad he finished his instrumental music after a while because I lost interest as well!


After an introductory film - which included footage taken from several well know Pink Floyd animations - projected at the back of the stage, the five members of Rule! entered the stage one by one to get ready to perform the music of their hopefully soon to be released debut album. An album which will be - like in the tradition of many other bands in the progressive rock scene - a true concept album. The story is based around a male person who gets lost in himself and the outside world. In the end, to get out of this mess, the only solution is his decision to commit suicide. To visualize the whole concept several
Karel Kerssies (left) and Wijnand Oppedijk
umbrellas were hung around the stage. The music of this concept album - being recorded at the moment - from time to time was very impressive. Lead singer Wijnand Oppedijk used his emotions to play the role of the suicidal protagonist very well. Apart his strong expression and charismatic performance on stage he, above all, was as a fantastic singer. In a way you could compare his vocal capacities with those of Geddy Lee (Rush), Steve Perry (ex-Journey), Rich Harding (Also Eden) and Les Dougan (Aragon). However, without his fellow musicians on stage, he probably wouldn't be as confident in playing his role as he was now, because each and every one of them managed to play their parts the best possible way, even though the sound on stage wasn't always very good. Some of the band members couldn't even hear their own parts on several occasions. Keyboard player Leon de Vries sounded as a kind of Mark Kelly in the early days of Marillion, when former lead singer Fish was still in the band. Therefore the sound came close to the music you can hear on the early albums released by Marillion many times. In a way guitarist Ruud de Graaf reminded me of Marillion's Steve Rothery. Although Ruud's main inspiration, namely Mike Oldfield, could be heard in the bands compositions as well. Thanks to the strong rhythm section, both instrumentalists - who had eye contact several times - could shine on stage throughout the band's entire performance. Strangely enough, you couldn't hear that Karel Kerssies used to be a bass player in several blues bands. He even let his feet speak by playing the bass pedals several times. Alco de Heer has a musical background that goes beyond the progressive rock genre too, when he started playing the drums, so 'bravo' to the rhythm blokes! After performing the music of their, hopefully soon to be released, concept album, they ended their strong first set with a Pink Floyd medley. A medley which featured a short part of The Wall (1979) and included the tracks Hey You,
Ruud de Graaf
Is There Anybody Out There! and Nobody Home. It was too bad the audience sometimes forgot the musicians on stage and felt it necessary to talk to each other very loudly during this strongly performed medley!

Rule! opened their hour and a half hours long second set with two original songs, before they moved on to play two well known covers. Regression and Sincere, again, were two compositions that could be labelled as the finest neo-progressive rock possible. Once again the early albums made by Marillion came to mind whilst I enjoyed them. The first cover tune was a track taken from Dream Theater's masterpiece Images And Words (1992), namely Surrounded. Right from the start it became clear to me that Wijnand could easily sing the high notes that James LaBrie fails to reach live most of the time. After the fine rendition of this great track, another amazing song was up next; this time the best track taken from Toto's The Seventh One (1988). Home Of The Brave is a true progressive rock piece which also includes, besides amazing vocal performances, excellent instrumental parts performed on guitars and keyboards. The Dutch musicians succeeded perfectly to bring a version that came close to the level the American musicians in Toto bring out on stage during their concerts. Finally two compositions of their own followed. Dark and It continued where they left off, before they played the two covers, meaning the same kind of music came out of the speakers. The final forty five minutes were almost entirely reserved for more covers. Maybe it was a bit strange to hear the band do a
Leon de Vries
cover of a band who's music they resemble a lot, but from a later period. They did a song that came from an album which was the first release, without their charismatic Scottish lead singer. However, Marillion's Easter was probably still written when Fish was in the band, so before Steve Hogarth took over the vocal department. The song can still be regarded as one of the best progressive rock tunes ever written. It has to be said that Rule! managed to bring a very good version in front of the not always focused audience very well. The same can be said about the way they brought on the intro of The Wall album. Even without the missing backing vocals, In The Flesh sounded amazingly good. After this performance, it was time to give the band's rhythm section and keyboard player some rest. In an acoustic setting Ruud and Wijnand brilliantly performed The Beatles' Blackbird (taken from their White album released in 1968) and Queen's Love Of My Life (taken from their album A Night At The Opera album released in 1975). After this it was time for the final Rule! composition. Logic could be described as a mix between the music of Pink Floyd and early Marillion. For the last song of the evening, they decided to bring the biggest hit Pink Floyd ever had. Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 was a perfect vehicle to introduce the members of the band and to give them a short solo spot. Furthermore, towards the end of the song it was participation time for the crowd. They could all clap and sing along, while the band spent their last minutes on stage, because after a request for an encore, the musicians called it a day. Not so strange considering the fact that most of the time the same audience didn't pay any attention to the band while they were on stage, therefore I can't blame them at all for not returning to the stage to do a final encore.

Despite the fact conditions were not perfect to give a progressive rock concert - the venue wasn't really suitable and therefore the sound not always great - the band managed to give an amazing performance. I guess they got a new fan, who really is looking forward to hear their debut album! So well done to the musicians and their crew, who made it possible to show some fine video projections as well!

Henri Strik (edited by Esther Ladiges)
    website "N"
    website "Rule!"

Live video

   Henri & Roel Strik

It (9:15)
Regression (6:11)
Home Of The Brave (7:20)
Surrounded (5:44)

Setlist Rule:

Set 1:
Pink Floyd Medley
Set 2:
Home Of The Brave
In The Flesh
Love Of My Life
Another Brick In The Wall Part 2

Pictures Rule by Arthur Haggenburg

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

Click on the picture to enlarge.


Line up Rule:

(left to right)
Karel Kerssies:
Wijnand Oppedijk:
lead vocals
Alco de Heer:
Ruud de Graaf:
Leon de Vries:
keyboards and vocals

All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2014