Franck Carducci & The Fantastic Squad

May 14, 2023 - 't Blok, Nieuwerkerk a/d IJssel (NL)

Visiting a concert of the flamboyant French multi-instrumentalist Franck Carducci is always big fun. Never a dull moment because entertainment is always written with a capital E. Also the sixth performance at 't Blok turned out to be a feast for the eyes and ears. Every time when he and his fantastic band The Fantastic Squad enter the stage something really special is going to happen. The eyes of the audience go short for what's happening
Franck Carducci (►more pics)
in front of them. They see a well-oiled musical machine that entertains them throughout the entire concert. The musicians are going to take you by the throat and make you gasp for air. During their brand-new Extravaganza Tour, the band just kicked ass by playing some classic Carducci compositions together with some new songs!

The curtain was still closed when Franck and his fellow band members hit the stage. At the same time, well-known rock'n'roll songs came out of the speakers. This could mean only one thing: the rock anthem Slave To Rock 'n' Roll was going to be performed. As the curtain opened, it was the start of an exceptional performance. Everybody on stage was dressed in glamorous outfits bringing back the old days of David Bowie, Roxy Music, Alice Cooper and Gary Glitter! A short version of A Brief Tale Of Time included the first act of Mary Reynaud. Normally she does the belly dance with laser lights on her hands. But this time, she was waving colourful flags while dancing around the stage.
Mary Reynaud on Theremin (►more pics)

In the meantime, Carducci took of his sunglasses. By doing so, the make-up on his face became very clear to see. Did he look like Peter Gabriel or like someone on a mug shot who couldn't be recognized? Well, it didn't matter because it just looked real cool to me! The next song Achilles, one of my favourites of the debut album, was directly followed by The Ecstasy Of Gold. The band gave a beautiful rendition of this Ennio Morricone composition with a leading role of singer Mary Reynaud. Next was The Betrayal Of Blue a song about ecology and how badly humanity treats the planet. During this song Mary let the Theremin speak with her body. While she was doing this Cédric Selzer played the piano part which reminded me a bit of The Great Gig In The Sky by Pink Floyd.
Léa Fernandez (►more pics)
The first new song was The Limits Of Freedom, a nice up-tempo rock tune with a fine piano solo done by Cedric, subsequently followed by Artificial Paradises, another classic Carducci track. The opening line was very well sung by Mary before Franck took over the vocal parts. Towards the end of the song, it was audience participation time. Then Franck did a solo spot with his acoustic guitar on Sweet Cassandra.

As always, the spotlights were on Mary when she did her own composition The Angel, a song on which she normally wears the neon light wings. However, this time the wings didn't work properly and therefore she had to come up with another great light effect. So, she put on her laser lights on her hands which she usually uses during
Barth Sky (►more pics)
the short version of A Brief Tale Of Time. In the meantime, the band's great female drummer Léa Fernandez put on some fairy wings, which she still wore when she did a great drum solo. In a way, this was the introduction to Torn Apart, another classic Carducci tune. It has a very strong guitar riff perfectly performed by guitarist Barth Sky, who from time to time gave some excellent solos during some other compositions.

While the band performed this song, Reynaud had the chance to change clothes in order to perform Alice's Eerie Dream. This is probably the most popular song during the band's performance. The real story of Alice In Wonderland and the well-known act of hooker Alice is generally loved by the audience. However, this time the introduction to the song was shorter due to the many young children in the audience. Franck wouldn't talk too much about turning
Mary Reynaud as Alice (►more pics)
Alice into a hooker by the wicked red queen. During the song all band members, except Franck, wore a masque just like Mary always does while acting the hooker. She wore again another dress, which appeared to be a beautiful mirror dress. After all the temptations of Alice it was time for the final song of the regular set. But before they performed Love Or Survive Franck first thanked the Progfrog crew and introduced his band members.

Of course, the musicians could not leave the stage before doing a final encore. Before they did an acoustic version of On The Road To Nowhere they sang a birthday song to Joost, the bartender who always serves drinks to all the visitors. The encore was a great ending of a superb performance of currently one of the best live bands. I would like to advice all prog heads to visit the band during their Extravaganza Tour. You won't regret it. Neither did all the people present at 't Blok on a sunny afternoon on Mother's Day. Thanks to the amazing Progfrog team for asking Franck Carducci & The Fantastic Squad for the sixth time to this sociable and small venue!

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

Live video

Henri & Roel Strik

Alice's Eerie Dream (16:53)
Achilles (9:30)
Artificial Paradises (10:48)

Setlist Franck Carducci:

Slave To Rock 'n' Roll
A Brief Tale Of Time
The Ecstasy Of Gold (Ennio Morricone cover)
The Betrayal Of Blue
The Limits Of Freedom
Artificial Paradises
Sweet Cassandra (Franck Carducci solo)
The Angel (performed by Mary Reynaud with The Fantastic Squad)
Torn Apart
Alice's Eerie Dream
Love Or Survive
On The Road To Nowhere

Pictures Franck Carducci by Arthur Haggenburg

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

Click on the picture to enlarge.


Line up Franck Carducci:

(left to right)
Barth Sky:
electric guitar, backing vocals
Léa Fernandez:
drums, backing vocals
Franck Carducci:
bass, double neck bass/twelve-string guitar, lead and backing vocals
Mary Reynaud:
percussion, acoustic guitar, Theremin, lead and backing vocals
Cédric Selzer:
keyboards, backing vocals

All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2023