The fountain of diversity is lost and found

Anneke van Giersbergen’s Vuur – Rockpalast, Bochum; February 12th, 2018

Anneke van Giersbergen manages to surprise me all the time. I know she can sing and play every style, but somehow she still always does what I least expect at that particular moment in time. There is probably a pattern in there somewhere, but for now I’m just enjoying whatever she throws my way. Last night it was time to see and hear her heavy side with the band Vuur for which she gathered some amazing musicians around her. the rocked the house in Bochum and I für 90 minutes I shut off my head and had fun.

Originally they had only announced tourdates fo the Netherlands and I had decided to go to Maastricht to see them and spend a nice weekend there. About one day after I realized I could not make it, they announced a European tour with Bochum as the first stop in Germany. Perfect! I arrived early, found one person waiting, K., who had come all the way from Almere to see them and we passed the time chatting. A few more people gathered before the doors opened, but it was stress free and easy to get in and to front row. Nice. I had never been to the Rockpalast before, only to the bigger basement venue called Matrix. I liked it.

First up were Polish Prog Metal Band Votum. They offered good, powerful songs with a nice variety. It was all a bit too heavy for my liking, but the singer’s voice was good and thy were fun to watch. They played well and did their best to get the audience going. about halfway through their set there was one song I really liked. It was called ‘Prometheus’ I think. They were a good warm up for the main band of he night and got the audience going.

The crew got to work changing the stage, the venue filled up and I was curious about the show we were going to see. I had hear on the UK tour the support band did not work out and thus Anneke played an acoustic set beforehand. I would have love to hear that, but of course we had had Votum. I knew of course that she had formed this band to show her heavy side as opposed to the softer side she shows with her solo stuff and had to admit that I did not listen to the album all that much. Still, everything is different live and I knew I’d find something I’d enjoy.

When the band walked on stage some of them looked familiar to me and introducing them Anneke said that this was the first time they were playing together as one band, but that we knew all of them and had seen them before. Yep, guess she was right. They all played well and brought great energy to the stage. Lots of flying hair too (in most cases anyway) so they were fun to watch. They were fun to listen to as well and even though I only recognized a few of the songs I sure enjoyed the music.

Johan the bass player seemed to have a bit of bad luck. At the beginning of the show he had trouble with his bass and kept checking with the tech guys. Later on, guitarist Jord accidentally hit him or bumped head with him or something of the like. Anneke made it all better by hugging him and petting his head. It was a sweet gesture.They played together a lot, always on the move across the small stage.

Among the Vuur songs, a few songs from Anneke’s other bands were strew in as well and she did an acoustic set. For me, this was the highlight of the show. I love her voice no matter what she sings, but do like her softer stuff better. She covered one Chris Cornell/Audioslave song that was beautiful and then asked us if we wanted to hear some Aryan cover. Not enough of us cheered to convince her so she assured us she liked Aryan and was gonna play the song anyway. It was just her with Ferry on guitar. Beautiful!

By the side of the stage there was a kid who might have been around ten and rocked out the entire time. Everyone played to him during the show, Anneke told him to keep rocking and at the very end she called him to the stage to take a bow with them and he got a guitar pick too. It was awesome. 😀

She did not talk all that much, just introduced some of the songs and of course the band. One thing that stuck with me though was that she said something along the lines of believing we could create our own little bubble of love and caring to live in make the world a bit better by that. I want to believe this too, that music unites us and all of us enjoying it together and spreading the love we feel at concerts can make this world a tiny bit better for us and hopefully those around us too.

It was a good show overall, with head-banging, fun, great music, a bit of dancing and just seeing a few great musicians at work. When it was time for the encores we were once again not loud enough so she had to ask us a few times if we wanted to hear more. 😀 Of course we did and not only one song! We got too and the show ended on a high note. I went and said hello after before saying my goodbyes and heading home. I#ll sure come back next time around.

Anneke van Giersbergen – vocals
Ed Warby – drums
Jord Otto – guitars
Ferry Duijsens – guitars
Johan van Stratum – bass

Setlist

Time – Rotterdam
My Champion – Berlin
On Most Surfaces (Inuït) (The Gathering cover)
The Martyr and the Saint – Beirut
The Storm (The Gentle Storm cover)
Like a Stone (Audioslave cover) (Anneke Solo)
Valley of the Queens (Ayreon cover) (only Anneke and Ferry Duijsens)
Freedom – Rio
Days Go By – London
Your Glorious Light Will Shine – Helsinki
Strange Machines (The Gathering cover)

Encore:
Fallout (Devin Townsend Project cover)
Reunite! – Paris

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Missing the north and hearing about Southern Nights

Ragnar Ólafsson – Sirkus Føroyar, Tórshavn; February 8th, 2018

I have a thing about seeing my favorite artists playing first concerts anywhere in the world and especially when this takes place somewhere I have never been. Seeing Ragnar Ólafsson play at Sirkus Føyonar was one of these occasions. It was lots of fun, especially because I managed to completely surprise him by showing up. I was rewarded with a lovely evening and two new songs. It was also the perfect cure for the severe case of missing the north I’ve been suffering from lately.

Around Christmas I was out for dinner with my friend B. And her husband M. We were talking about travel and joking about meeting on Faroe Islands one day. I remember saying something along the lines of going there if there were a concert I wanted to see. Less than two months later I am here, spontaneously hopped on a plane and flew in to see my friend Ragnar play. He and his friend Kevin are currently traveling the islands to make an audiobook for Recording Europe and the moment I saw the first pictures on Instagram I was looking for an excuse to go there. When I saw the concert announcement on Facebook I had one – it took me less than yo day to go from “if only this was a weekend I’d totally go” to “I’m so doing this!”

Flew via Copenhagen, arrived around noon and was already blown away by the beauty of the landscape before we even landed. On the drive into town I couldn’t stop staring and was glad I be here for a few days. Spent the afternoon walking the city, even in the rain and loved it. Arrived at the venue around 8 in time to have dinner and did my best to hide until show time. I lasted about 20 minutes. 😉

There was a lot of time to chat before the show at “Faroese ten” which is about the same as “Icelandic ten” i.e. 22:30. The small space was nicely filled with curious onlookers. I had not listened to the album in a while, so it made me happy to hear all the songs again. 🙂

For the first time in a long time Ragnar played a true solo show, just his voice and a borrowed guitar. It reminded me of the first time he played ‘Urges’ for me at a train station somewhere in Germany. ‘Wine’ was the first song and set the mood from the start. He didn’t say much by way of introduction other than stating his name and asking whether he should speak Icelandic or English. A few people voted for Icelandic so I added “as long as you translate to English once in a while.” In the end, he stuck with English.

Song number two came as a surprise to me, it was ‘Deva’, a song he wrote for his best friend’s daughter. It is still a little rough around the edges, but feels very true to me in the emotion it carries. There is a deep sense of hope in the words , of knowing that hard times only bring us closer together, that resonate deeply with me right now. We also got to hear the story of how and why the song came into being, after the audience agreed they liked storytelling.

‘A Prayer’ was another surprise for me, because I remembered Ragnar telling me he could not get it to work as a solo guitar version. It worked just fine this time. 🙂 ‘More will come along’ made me happy too. I think any dong would have, because it was still incredible to me that I had made it there. Several times during the night I caught myself shaking my head because seeing this concert had seemed like an impossible dream just a few days ago. 😀

For ‘Dozen’ Ragnar got the support of Rebecca T…. an artist he and Kevin had recorded for Recording Europe a few days earlier. Her voice fit the song wonderfully. <3 ‘The Cannon’ and ‘Bravery’ brought the first set to an end as people had voted for a break.

I was getting mixed vibes from the audience. Two girls in the corner seemed rather bored and reminded me of the constantly talking pair in Myslovice last year. Luckily these two were quiet. The people at the center table and on the stairs were going along thought. Thus I was surprised when they did not come back after the break and felt really sorry for Ragnar. Some people stayed though and they even moved closer so he did make a connection after all. 🙂

The second set was a bit shorter then, starting with ‘SSDD’ and ‘Urges’. I fully expected Ragnar to walk around the room during ‘Sleep now’, but he stayed put this time. He told us he had two more songs before encores, played ‘Scar’ and then a beautiful rendition of ‘Needle and Thread’ with a bit of a background story this time. I really wanted to hear ‘Every Brick in Manhatten’, but somehow it did not feel like the right moment to ask. Much later, when I took a closer look at the picture I had taken of the setlist, I realized it was on there originally and could not help but smile.

The show looked to be over at that point, but then some magic happened and someone asked for the encore that was mentioned earlier. We were treated to another new song called ‘Southern Nights’ that was written as a joke about last summer’s trip down the Mississippi on a boat. It was fun too and a light hearted end to the evening.

I had hoped to chill and share a drink with the guys after, but it was almost midnight already and the bar closed immediately. Thus I said goodbye, hugged both of them and wished them a good time for the rest of their stay. I left with good memories and the knowledge I’d have two more days to explore the Faroe Islands before returning home.

Setlist

Wine
Deva
War
A Prayer
More will come along
Dozen
The Cannon
Bravery

SSDD
Urges
Sleep now
Scar
Needle and Thread

Southern Nights

The night of sharing drinks happened after all, two days later. The guys were recording the CD release concert of Black Metal band Svartmálm and invited me to the gig. Second band that night were Solbrud. It was not my thing, bit fun nonetheless and we ended up at Sirkus for some relaxed late night chilling and chit-chat. 😀

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