These are difficult times for people trying to organize a concert or festival. Prices for fuel, food and gas are
rising almost every day. So people have to cut spending and have to make choices about how they're going to spend
their money. This often comes at the expense of the fun things in life such as attending concerts and festivals.
But luckily there are still people who, despite the difficult times, support their favourite music and bands by
going to their concerts. Fortunately, this allowed people behind the Northern Prog Festival to come up again with
a worthwhile festival to enjoy. Again, just as last year (see review
), with four bands on the bill. Namely Chain
, Leap Day
, Less Is Lessie
and Also Eden
Last year the album Homesick
), made by the Dutch neo-prog band Chain Reaktor, got rather good
reviews. On their debut album the brothers Bart Laan
(vocals, guitars and flute) and Arjan Laan
(drums and percussion) from the band Skylake
were joined by their father Erik Laan
|Arianne van Nieuwenhuijsen and Bart Laan|
. Because there is no bass player in the family they asked Mark op Ten Berg
to play the
bass. The album is a rather strong musical effort, but how do they sound on a stage in front of a real audience?
They probably also wanted to bring the music to their fans and lovers of progressive rock in general. Therefore
they decided to rehearse their music and do a mini tour, which they named 'Enjoy your Live Tour', this fall.
One of the dates on that tour was to open the Northern Prog Festival. To come up with a strong live sound they
asked Arianne van Nieuwenhuijsen
to do some extra guitar parts and add some vocals to the
songs taken from their debut. To be honest I was absolutely flabbergasted when I heard the band perform all the
songs from Homesick
. Wow, they just sounded fantastic. Most of all the guitar solos by Bart were jaw-dropping.
Also the close harmony vocals were breathtaking. And what about Erik's excellent keyboard parts?
I also have to mention the way Arjan was moving behind his drum kit. His technical and groovy playing
amazed me after seeing him earlier playing with Skylake at the same festival in 2019 (see review
). At that time
he was sick and could not show his true musicianship as it turned out.
There was one cover on the playlist, Amazing Flight of Ayreon, which was played in a perfect way.
So after seeing this Dutch band for the first time it is easy to say that
I want to see them again. And for those who have missed them, try to see them as soon as possible because they
are pretty amazing!
Leap Day are, as many of you already know, the organisers of the festival. Therefore it is hard for them to climb
the stage at the same time and to present a good show. However because of two earlier concerts not so long ago,
one of them was a the Summer's End Festival in Wales, they managed to pulled it off again. They gave a rather
strong performance which mainly was focused on their latest release Treehouse
(2021, see review
were left out. Too bad that the last mentioned title wasn't played because it's
probably my favourite of the album. Both guitarist Eddie Mulder
(again great playing) and lead singer
(which sounded live more raw as on the album) told me they were still working on it to be able to play this song live.
However, even without this excellent piece of music there was much to enjoy. Only too bad that most of the old
classic songs were the same as played last year on the festival (see review
). Therefore the crowd could again
enjoy When Leaves Fall
and Changing Directions
. But you won't hear me complain
because they are also favourites of mine without any doubt. I also have to mention that I did find it a little
bit strange that the band opened their set with a rather mellow piece. Clementine
is a kind of ballad and
therefore I would prefer that they kicked ass right from the start with the up tempo piece Like Icarus
But that's only my humble opinion. But as said before, it was a rather strong performance and therefore I couldn't
have asked for more, I guess!
Less Is Lessie
Last year Poland's Less Is Lessie released their album The Escape Plan
), a concept album, which
leads the listener through the vibrant streets of Wroclaw's Nadodrze district. To be honest I didn't expect to
hear them playing the entire album in front of an audience and backed up with videos of the city. But thanks
to Witold Andree and their record company Oskar they had the chance to give the Dutch
audience a tour around the city where they come from. Due to technical problems and an extra long soundcheck
the band started one half hour later than planned. This didn't make their set any shorter and they
presented us the entire The Escape Plan
album. The setting on stage was rather dark and the video projection
in the back could hardly be seen. Because there was too much equipment in front of it and moreover the five musicians
were also blocking the view to be able to see it. However, even without seeing the screen as it should have
been, there was enough to enjoy to be too critical about it. It has to be said that the whole album was done in
a rather good way. Even our English speaking tour guide was present to tell you more about this special place.
Although it was only his voice which could be heard. The musicians on stage were very much focused to be sure
everything went right music wise. Everybody did what they had to do. Playing top notch! A special mention
goes out to the only female in the band. Weronika Kowal
who delivered some outstanding playing on her violin.
Occasionally she assisted on her small keyboard and provided some vocals as well. So bravo to Weronika! I was
very curious if the audience present would have liked what the band presented on stage. And according to the response
after the last song, it became very clear that everybody who attended the festival enjoyed this special show very
much. A big well deserved applause was given to the band. And nobody asked themselves 'Was this trip really necessary'?.
Back in 2009 there was a band from Wales which really gave me goosebumps when they set food on the stage to play
their excellent compositions from the albums About Time
(2006, see review
) and It's Kind Of You To Ask
(2008, see review
). The name of the band was Also Eden and the venue at the time was the Starsound Studio in Utrecht
). I will never forget the beautiful moments I had with those fantastic musicians before and after
the concert. Now, 13 years later, I could meet most of them again thanks to the organizers of the Northern Prog Festival. They invited the band back on Dutch soil
again in a line up which was almost the same as in 2009. With lead singer Huw Lloyd-Jones
their drummer Dave Roelofs
, the keyboard player Ian 'Killer' Hodson
and their guitarist Simon Rogers
. All excellent musicians.
On bass I could welcome Graham Lane
who I had met in 2015 when Also Eden played their last concert on Dutch
soil with a different line up. The welcome was again as warm as many years ago and the band played as if they never went away for such a
long time. The band's drummer Dave told me that he had not played any concerts or rehearsals for a very long time.
It actually was six months since he had played with the other musicians. He lives in the Netherlands and due to the brexit it became very difficult
to cross the channel to join the other band members. Therefore this performance was also one of his last with them.
Maybe that might have been the reason that he had put all of his energy into his playing.
As I said before, the band played as if they never went away,
giving me goosebumps once again. Songs from the bands first two albums, mentioned earlier, were done in an excellent
way. I witnessed one highlight after another. Therefore I can't mention any highlights at all. The crowd probably
felt the same way and asked them back on stage to for two more encores. Namely A Widow's Eyes
A special mention goes out for the great Peter Gabriel
cover Huw and Simon did together. For those who
attended the legendary Progfarm Festival in 2006 will remember that they did Here Comes The Flood
slimmed-down shape version of the band. When a couple of members could not join them on stage they named themselves
. Also the following year they played the same song again but in the complete line up as Also
Eden. Overall it can be said that this comeback concert will be another performance to be remembered for a
very very long time. Well done guys and for being there!
The ninth edition of Northern Prog Festival was once again another festival with only musical highlights on stage.
So thanks for the people who booked all bands! Also a special mention goes out to people who were responsible
for the excellent sound. Finally a thank you goes out once again for the people of De Uthof who made it possible
that everybody had enough food and drinks. Thanks also that they made sure that our batteries were always fully
charged to record every band on video. Hopefully the same can be said about next year event. Because it's the
tenth anniversary of the festival. So join us all for the best festival in the Netherlands!
Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)