October 18, 2019 - Parkvilla Theater, Alphen a/d Rijn (NL)
One of the lesser known progressive rock bands from England is Cairo. The band is led by Rob Cottingham, the former keyboard player of Touchstone. In a way his new band resembles his former band. Because both bands have a male and female lead singer and do a lot of harmony vocals together. But in contrast to the fairly abstract music and lyrics that Rob has written for Touchstone, he takes a different approach with Cairo, more human with a lot of "heart and soul". Furthermore in Rob's former band the electric guitars gave the band an occasional heavy sound. But all in all you can say that if you like Touchstone you might enjoy the music of Cairo as well. Therefore, I was hoping that a lot fans of this band would be curious to see how this other band would sound during a live performance. So, I was hoping that a fully packed Parkvilla Theater in Alphen aan de Rijn would welcome the band for their first live appearance on a Dutch stage. But I guess I was dreaming with my eyes wide open, because only a few fans made it to the venue to see an amazing live band!
According to Rob they were their own support act for the first set. During the one and a half hour long first set, they played material taken from Cottinghams former band and his solo album Back Behind The Orchard Tree (see review), a re-release of his 1st solo album from 2002. Of course, you could tell that Sarah was a bit nervous being in the spotlights for the very first time with this band. But looking to the left of her, was Rob standing behind his keyboards, which made her more confidence while singing the Touchstone songs Sleeping Giants and Shadow. I'll have to say she managed to sing the compositions that were originally performed by Kim Seviour very well whom she respects a lot as she told me after the show. Also, the backing vocals she provided during the two songs (Hear Me and Out Of Time) taken from Rob's solo album sounded rather good. As for the other band members on stage, I could tell they did their job really well. The rhythm section consisting of Paul Stocker (bass and backing vocals) and Graham Brown (drums) played pretty tight, even though you could tell that Graham loves to hit his instrument in a more aggressive way. Too bad Paul couldn't bring his bass pedals. His car was too small to get them to the first Dutch gig. Also, too bad James Hards couldn't completely show how capable he is on his electric guitar. Only occasionally did he solo on his instrument. Most of the time he was accompanying Rob and Sarah while they were singing the songs. Rob was of course the main man during the first act. His keyboards took most of the lead during the much too short first set. But there was still a second set to come and to enjoy.
Nothing To Prove was the first song to enjoy after they returned. A song on which Rob and James could show how well they could solo on their instruments. After that it was time to introduce the band members and thank everybody else involved in organising this wonderful concert. The final song the band performed was a song which Rob loved when he was 14 years old. A song which dates from 1975 and for many other rock musicians a real guilty pleasure. Maybe they could have made a real progressive rock song of ABBA's S.O.S., but they stayed unfortunately close to the original version. Maybe they should have tried to do it a bit like how IQ changed Mamma Mia of the same band into a real prog tune during concerts. Well it didn't really matter, because this way they still ended their performance in a positive way.
Again, Serious Music managed to book a band less known to the progressive rock audience but still was worth watching. So, thanks for that!
Henri Strik (edited by Dave Smith)
Live video recordings
Henri & Roel Strik
Nothing To Prove (10:15)
Dancing The Gossamer Thread (6:48)
Wiped Out (3:13)
Intro (Random Acts of Kindness mash up)
Out Of Time
Katrina (Breath mix)
Nothing To Prove Reprise
Back From The Wilderness
Random Acts Of Kindness Part 1
Dancing The Gossamer Thread
Nothing To Prove
S.O.S. (ABBA cover)
Cairo by Arthur Haggenburg
Click on the picture to enlarge.
Line up Cairo:(left to right)
bass and backing vocals
keyboards, lead and backing vocals
lead and backing vocals
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