De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, NL
Sunday, 22nd September 2019
It’s safe to say that De Boerderij in Zoetermeer is the number one prog stage in the Netherlands. The theatre has already been voted runner up several times in the favourite prog venues poll by PROG magazine, just behind the Royal Albert Hall. To illustrate this, the Progdreams festival was organized for the eighth time in succession this year. Once again, the poster was littered with interesting names such as Sky Architect, The Paradox Twin and Von Hertzen Brothers on Friday and The Dame, IT, Verbal Delirium, IO Earth and Gazpacho on Saturday. Unfortunately, due to circumstances, I was unable to attend the entire event, but Sunday did fit in with my personal program, and I was certainly not disappointed by what was on offer on this final day.
The Franck Carducci band guarantees a spectacular, theatrical show, and the knowledgeable prog fan knows what to expect. Despite the fact that the band has to play at a difficult time, as first of four bands on a Sunday afternoon around 3pm, the atmosphere is excellent right from the start. The band treats us to more than an hour of steaming prog rock, accompanied by a brilliant theatre show. Opener Slave to Rock ‘n’ Roll goes down really well with the audience, Carducci steals the show, as usual, together with Mary Reynaud. The latter plays a special role and fits in perfectly with her feather-light appearance. The fans watch and listen breathlessly as she, dressed in her angel costume, moves gracefully across the stage.
The medley should not be missed, kicking off with The Quind, the rest is one big feast for both eyes and ears. Not for the first time, a fully acoustic version of On the Road to Nowhere is performed, Franck on 12-string guitar, singing without a microphone, supported by the rest of the band, an absolute highlight. Alice’s Eerie Dream is Carducci’s version of Alice in Wonderland, with high theatrical content. As an encore, the band plays the well-known Artificial Paradise which blends seamlessly into a cover of Pink Floyd’s Eclipse. The sparkling show by these men plus lady is highly appreciated by the enthusiastic audience, as evidenced by the ecstatic applause, gratefully accepted by the group. Together with his band, Carducci will remain present all day, manning his merchandising booth himself, a particularly sympathetic and creative guy. It is about time for a break-through to larger audiences.
Slave To Rock ‘n’ Roll
The After Effect
The Quind / Journey Through The Mind / A Letter Tale Of Time / The Last Oddity
On The Road To Nowhere
Déjà Vu Airport
Alice’s Eerie Dream
Eclipse (Pink Floyd cover)
Christophe Obadia – Electric Guitar, Didgeridoo, Bass Pedals
Olivier Castan – Keyboards
Mary Reynaud – Theremin, Rainstick, Tambourine, Vocals
Nino Reina – Drums, Background Vocals
Franck Carducci – Bass Guitar, 12-String Guitar, Vocals
Brian Cummins plays Peter Gabriel
Brian Cummins is best known as frontman/singer of tribute bands such as Carpet Crawlers and The ELO Show. Occasionally he makes a sidestep towards other prog artists, in his repertoire there is also a Peter Gabriel show which he performs as a solo artist. With this particular act he performed during Progdreams, and I’ll get straight to the point: it was a mediocre to weak performance by the sympathetic Englishman. Whether it was the fact that he had poorly prepared himself or that it was technically all too difficult, I really don’t know. The fact is that this was certainly not the best show that Brian Cummins has delivered at De Boerderij. In addition, the same old joke about PG’s Greatest Hits/Best Of and the fake conversation with non-present band members came across as somewhat pitiful. Having said that, he still has a good singing voice that comes close to the special sound of the original from time to time, especially during the acoustic pieces, such as Here Comes the Flood, the latter was clearly audible. Unfortunately for Cummins, the already not well-attended room was rendered half-empty over the course of his act. The crowd obviously preferred a snack or dinner to the show. Too bad, the Brit always puts a lot of effort into his performance with a high work ethic, but sadly he is failing somewhat in his Ed Sheeran act, with many effects and electronic gadgets. Shortening his usual set, and, in that context, the choice of repertoire did not really help either. Better luck next time.
Here Comes the Flood
Talk To Me
Brian Cummins – Guitars, Vocals, Sound Effects
Brian Cummins – Facebook
John Hackett Band
Personally, I had been looking forward to this performance of the John Hackett band. More specifically, the release of his latest album, Beyond The Stars from 2018 and his most proggy to date, sparked my interest. John Hackett, best known for his work with older brother Steve, kicks off at around 7pm for a performance that would last more than one and a half hours. Only about 100 people were present this Sunday, the closing day of the festival, a very modest number, which immediately raises the question whether this is sufficient for a follow-up event, but that question has been asked many times before and one way or another director Arie Verstegen and his staff always manage to present an interesting program to us, for which he deserves praise. However, some things have to be mentioned about the performance of the band. The harmony vocals were extremely mediocre and sometimes even out of tune. Hackett’s voice is unobtrusive and flat, neither fish nor fowl. The band is by no means a well-oiled machine yet, here and there the sound is still rattling. In their defence, it should be noted that the quartet rare performs live.
On the other hand, there’s the performance of an absolute top guitarist named . Certainly not a youngster, on the contrary, but a relative ‘rookie’ when it comes to rock music. In recent decades Fletcher has mainly focused on the classical guitar, nevertheless, he was the star of the show with his play on the electric guitar, which is a cross between the late Allan Holdsworth, Dave Gilmour and Steve Hackett himself. In particular, the songs from the aforementioned most recent album did well. The beautiful King Crimson song I Talk To The Wind also met with lots of appreciation from the crowd. The encore Red Hair, an instrumental referring to the music of Jethro Tull, and the prog/jazz of Wind of Change were the highlights of the show. Oh yes, I almost forget the Peter Gabriel-like (Supper’s Ready!) introduction by drummer Duncan Parsons for the also instrumental Queenie and Elmo’s Perfect Day, hilarious. Could it be a coincidence that especially the instrumental songs came across best?
Life In Reverse
Burns Down Trees
Queenie And Elmo’s Perfect Day
Sign Of The times
Wind Of Change
Who Let The Rain In
A Time In Place
I talk To The Wind (King Crimson cover)
A Horse Named Cadillac
John Hackett – Keyboards, Flute, Vocals
Jeremy Richardson – Bass, Vocals
Nick Fletcher – Guitar
Duncan Parsons – Drums, Background Vocals
Once upon a time, I was allowed to introduce this band on stage, somewhere in 2016 – my debut as a presenter. The Italians tour Europe extensively and visit De Boerderij almost every year, a ‘second home’ as Simone Rossetti mentioned during the performance. This time not a Genesis show, but mostly their own work with some well-chosen songs from their idols. Fortunately, because The Watch is much more than just another cover band, their own authentic material is just too good for that. Just listen to their most recent album Seven and you will be amazed by the musicality and craftsmanship of these musicians. A long soundcheck was needed, even with singer Rossetti overseeing proceedings from the middle of the hall, before the guys thought the sound was good enough to start. They finally did so around 9:20pm.
I would like to highlight a few small gems from the setlist, such as opening track Hills/Damage Mode where the merger between Genesis and The Watch is most powerfully represented. And what about the authentic The Fisherman, which blends seamlessly into Apocalypse in 9/8 from Supper’s Ready (Gods of Magog), sublime. Rossetti’s traditional speech in Dutch is received with great applause. In addition, a special mention for the encore with own song New Normal and Genesis cover Firth of Fifth, John Hackett joins on flute on both songs.
The show ends around 11 p.m. We have witnessed a great show from the Italians, as always passionate, focused and intense. The sound was excellent, the beautiful light show once again underlines the capabilities of the staff at De Boerderij in this field. An enthusiastic audience, now grown to around 150, could appreciate the combination of largely the band’s own authentic songs and work from the extensive oeuvre of legendary Genesis. It worked for me, another box ticked.
A great finale to the eighth edition of the famous Progdreams Festival. Despite a relatively low turnout, once again a great success. Hopefully there are sufficient starting points for organizing a follow-up. The festival has now become a phenomenon and is an essential part of the (prog) concert listing. Let’s hope the management at De Boerderij feels the same way, at least they deserve tribute for their excellent initiative, on to the ninth edition!
Shining Bald Heads
Stagnation (Genesis cover)
Supper’s Ready (Apocalypse in 9/8) (Genesis cover)
The Lamia (Genesis cover)
New Normal (with John Hackett)
Firth of Fifth (with John Hackett)
JSimone Rossetti – Vocals, Flute
Marco Fabbri – Drums, Percussion
Giorgio Gabriel – Acoustic & Electric Guitar
Valerio De Vittorio – Keyboards, Acoustic guitar, Vocals
Mattia Rossetti – Bass Guitar, 12-String Electric Guitar, Vocals
John Hackett – Flute
Photos by Ron Kraaijkamp (Cultuurpodium Boerderij)
Progdreams Festival – Facebook