December 18, 2016 - 't Blok, Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel (NL)

For me personally, Martigan are one of the best progressive rock bands hailing from Germany. Only twice have they visited the Netherlands for a concert. The first one was done at the legendary ProgFarm festival in 2009 (see review). The second time they visited our country was also for a festival - The Rock Ittervoort Festival in 2013 (see review). I guess it was time for a third visit and therefore January 2016 I contacted the people of Progfrog. I asked them if they were interested in having them on their stage. Thank God they gave me a positive answer and so I brought the idea over to the band's keyboard player Oliver Rebhan. This is what he wrote me: 'We are absolutely interested in playing in the Netherlands, cause the people are a little bit cooler in enjoying different music'. In the end a concert was arranged in December of the same year. You could imagine I really felt good that I could witness another complete concert from this amazing band. However, it would take almost one whole year for me to look them in the eye and give them a big hug!

Kai Marckwordt
Finally the time had come for the band to climb a Dutch stage for a third time. They were introduced as a neo progressive rock band and the audience could look forward to a performance which would last two and a half hours or even three hours long. Well in the end it turned out the band was on stage almost one hundred and fifty minutes. During those minutes everything went very well minus some microphone problems which lead singer Kai Marckwordt had.

It was obvious the main set list would consist tracks taken from their latest release Distant Monsters (2015, see review). However the opening piece came from its predecessor Vision (2009, see review). After a perfect rendition of Touch In Time the band even went further back in time in their back catalogue. A song taken from Ciel Ouvert (1996) could be enjoyed. I guess it's always fun to hear a song such as Mask & Raven, even if it is from their early days. The most remarkable was to hear how the song has developed through the years music wise. The first piece from the band's latest effort was next. Lion (White, Wild & Blind) started wonderfully on the drums. The typical drum parts of Alex Bisch were followed by his brother's warm guitar parts. However, Björn Bisch stood not very long in the spotlights. The strong vocals of Kai Marckwordt from that moment dominate the following minutes until Björn returned into the spotlight by playing an excellent solo on his electric guitar. For the next track, the band moved to their Man Of The Moment (2002) album. The opening of Closer Contact was for Kai, who really looked cool with his dark glasses on his face. He handled the vocals and played on his green Gibson guitar as well. The first epic was next. The Contract was introduced by Kai by telling that they also did it at the earlier mentioned ProgFarm festival. The song had a rather long improvised intro. First bass player Mario Koch could show his talents on his instruments. But there was also room for Oliver Rebhan to play some piano parts on his keyboards. Even Marckwordt could again show his talents on the electric guitar by playing some nice guitar chords. But the song was of course also a good vehicle for Oliver and Björn to play some outstanding solos on their instruments. For the next two pieces of music the musicians return to their latest album. First the ballad Simplicius (which also can be found on their demo Stolzenbach which was released in 1995) with the amazing guitar solo by Björn. It was followed by the opening piece of Distant Monsters.
Theodor´s Walls has already become one of the new classic pieces from the band. Therefore it was welcomed by some applause when they started it. The song has everything Martigan stands for. Fantastic mellow, up-tempo parts, great solos performed on the guitar, synthesizers and finally, wonderful musical references to bands such as Saga and Genesis.
With the next two songs, the Vision album was back in the spotlight. Red & Green and Boatman's Vision are of course excellent songs, only too bad the last one wasn't done in its entirety. According to Björn the band had not played it that often during rehearsals, and therefore they didn't dare to do the twenty
Björn Bisch
minute plus version. Well of course the nine minutes version was welcomed with a lot of cheering and loved as much as the epic version. Another track from the new album could be heard next. After Complicius was done, the earlier mentioned microphone failure occurred. The time it took to fix the problem might have been the reason the band decided not to do the usual drum solo and continued with Much More - a song which is most of all dominated by Oliver's keyboards and Björn's electric guitar. For their final song of the regular set the band returned to the new album.
Fire On The Pier was of course the perfect ending of a great performance, but the audience wanted more and requested an encore when they left the stage. This time around you could not hear several times 'we want more, we want more, we want more', but instead you could hear in real German 'zugabe, zugabe, zugabe'. It was as if the band played a home game! Well they couldn't resist this warm reaction from the crowd and came back to do two more songs which originally can be found on Man Of The Moment. Images & Tales and The Pride are songs which regular can be found on the band's setlist as the usual encores. Most of all The Pride is a real show stopper and for me personally the perfect ending of an amazing performance!

A couple of days after this brilliant concert, it became clear that the band had impressed the people of Progfrog as well. An invitation to let them return to the Netherlands a fourth time was given to them and probably accepted by the band. Hopefully it won't take a couple of years, like the last time they set foot in our country to perform their amazing music. Until that moment, when I can once again look them in the eye and give them a big hug, I will cherish this wonderful concert!

Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)

Setlist Martigan:

Touch In Time
Mask & Raven 1
Lion (White, Wild & Blind)
Closer Contact
The Contract
Theodor´s Walls
Red & Green
Boatman's Vision - Part 1
Much More
Fire On The Pier
Images & Tales
The Pride

Pictures Martigan by Arthur Haggenburg

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Line up Martigan:

(left to right)
Oliver Rebhan:
keyboards and backing vocals
Mario Koch:
Kai Marckwordt:
electric and acoustic guitars, lead and backing vocals
Björn Bisch:
electric guitar
Alex Bisch:
drums and backing vocals

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