How often does it happen that two German acts come to the Netherlands to share the same stage on the same day?
I guess almost never. But it happened on a cold day in November 2019. The location was probably the best place
they could have wished for. Namely the Parkvilla Theater in Alphen aan de Rijn. But it never would have taken
place if the people of Serious Music Alphen had not invited t
and Crystal Palace
to be the double
headliners of the evening.
The four piece unit from Berlin had the task to get the audience into the right mood. It was their second time
a stage in our country. Several years ago they played on the Progpower Festival in Baarlo. So, in a way they were
already familiar with the Dutch audience. However, it might still be a little strange that a band that was formed
in 1991 was only making their second appearance in the Netherlands. Only bassist and lead vocalist Jens Uwe
remains in the band from the day they started. Keyboard player Frank Köhler
joined the band
in 1998 and can be heard on their second album Demon In You
(2001). The other two members Nils Conrad
guitars) and Tom Ronney
(drums) joined much later and therefore it isn't so strange that the songs
performed came from the bands last three album releases; The System Of Events
(2013, see review
(2016, see review
) and Scattered Shards
(2018, see review
). All the songs played were accompanied
by a fantastic video presentation on a big screen behind the band.
During the one and a half hours they were on stage they certainly impressed the audience with their strong compositions
and playing. Most of all Conrad showed many times how to play an excellent solo on his electric guitar. The musical
highlight for me personally, and I guess for most of the people present as well, was the strong live version of
The System Of Events
. A song which today has an even bigger impact than when it was released in 2013. Before
they played this excellent piece of music Yenz (nick name for Jens Uwe Strutz) referred to the historical
fact of the fall of the Berlin wall, which happened this year exactly 30 years ago. But also, the significance
of this for the members of the band who originate from the previously separated parts of Berlin. It has to be
said that the band played as a well oiled machine and certainly deserved to do an encore. But I guess Strutz probably
wasn't sure the people in front of him were willing to ask them back to do another song. Therefore, he asked the
audience, before playing the last song of the regular set (Sky Without Stars
), to give them a sign to come
back or to stay in their dressing room behind the little window. Well he was certainly glad the crowd asked them
back to do an encore. All the best freaks are here, he told them. Referring to the well known Marillion
song. But it wasn't so strange at all actually. Because you have to know that the majority of them came to see
them and not the other German act. So before they finally waved goodbye, Beautiful Nightmare
as well! A well deserved applause left them without any doubt .
Since 2001, former Scythe
member Thomas Thielen
released several solo albums under the moniker t.
The Hannover musician has so far released seven albums on his own. However he has never performed songs from
his albums with a live band.
Maybe a little bit strange if you consider he started playing in a band at the age
of 14. But sometimes life takes a different turn and you end up in a situation where you really cannot refuse
the offer you have been given. Resulting in a performance at the Night Of The Prog Festival held in Sankt Goarshausen,
Germany. This led to more concerts and a tour which he named Curtain Call
. Named after one of his compositions.
He even crossed the German border to do his first concert in the Netherlands. Together with his excellent live
band Thomas managed to impress each and everyone with his sometimes very complex sounding compositions. Even those
who mainly came to see Crystal Palace were speechless after what they witnessed during the 90 minutes long set.
A set which mainly had songs taken from Naive
(2013) and Fragmentropy
Once again the audience could see Jens Uwe Strutz on stage to play the bass and some backing vocals.
The rhythm section was completed by Thomas Nußbaum
on drums. Thielen's musical buddy in Clouds Can
, could be found sitting behind the keyboards. He played the very difficult orchestral
parts and sometimes classical sounding piano tunes. An extra guitarist was Jan Steiger
played fine a solo on his instrument along with the rhythm parts. Of course I was curious what instrument Thomas
would choose to play while doing his own compositions. Because he played all the instruments himself on his albums.
After the show he told me he started playing the guitar as a teenager to attract the girls. I am not sure if he
brought this instrument to the stage for the same reason, because he is nowadays married to a famous German photographer
and writer. Many times he played excellent guitar solos, next to some fine lead vocals.
Next to the songs taken from his large discography Thomas choose to do songs from his musical heroes as well.
Being a big fan of The Cure
their guitarist and songwriter Robert Smith
it was very obvious
to do their biggest hit. Namely A Forest
. With a voice sounding like Marillion's Steve Hogarth
it was for many people probably not so strange to hear the band doing Neverland
. This first encore was
instantly recognised by the audience. Just like the second encore. Which was performed with the musicians of Crystal
Palace on stage as well. Many people already said that Thielen's vocals sometimes sounds like the voice of the
late David Bowie
. Therefore it again wasn't so strange to hear them doing Heroes
. A cover which
started with some technical problems but soon ended into a true celebration on stage.
The whole show was recorded for a possible release on CD or DVD. Hopefully everything turned out well. Because
I would like to enjoy this excellent concert over and over again. Just like the audience who was present and gave
them a well deserved standing ovation.
A well deserved show of hands goes also to the people of Serious Music Alphen. They dared to bring on their stage
two lesser known progressive rock acts who were loved by the people who dared to show up at one of the most cosy
locations in the Netherlands!
Henri Strik (edited by Dave Smith)