The Dutch Serious Music Café has organized concerts in Alphen aan den Rijn in the Netherlands since 2010. In particular the more unknown progressive rock acts get a chance to perform at the Parkvilla Theater venue, a location which has seats only and therefore everyone has a perfect view of the stage, from which the sound is perfect and the images projected at the back work very well.
For me, it was the second time I entered this warm and cozy place. After watching Kristoffer Gildenlöw and A Liquid Landscape in 2013 (see review), the stage was reserved for acts coming from France and Scotland this time, namely Franck Carducci and Comedy Of Errors. However, the original line-up for this fifth Serious Music Event had undergone some changes. Nine Stones Close had originally been booked, but have had to cancel their performance due to line-up changes. One of the events organisers happened to see the French musician Franck Carducci and his excellent band at ’t Blok earlier this year (see review), and he impressed him so much that he asked this friendly musician to replace Nine Stones Close and fortunately he agreed to do so! Comedy Of Errors had already been booked last year, but they were forced to withdraw because their short tour through the Netherlands was cancelled at the very last minute! The organisers of this event still wanted them to play on their stage, and fortunately they also agreed to come for this one-off concert in the Netherlands!
Well I suspect the organisation never regretted booking Franck and his band, because all of them showed how they turned out to be a well oiled unit after performing together so many times. Even with a new face behind the drums, they showed what professionals they all are. Laurent Falso was perfectly replaced by young Nicolas Chona and hit the drums as if he’d played in this band for years. Although the songs performed were almost the same as at the already mentioned concert at ’t Blok, I was impressed again, and most of all entertained throughout the entire concert!
After the show Franck asked me whether the show was better this time around. Well musically and visually it was of the same high level, but sound wise it was even better. Once more the show started with the sword fight between guitarist Christophe Obadia and keyboardist Olivier Castan prior to the band performing Achilles in an excellent way. However, the stage was a bit too dark for the audience to see what actually happened. When the lights turned on it seemed the band was playing in the fog because during the first minutes of the song the dry-ice/ fog machine had worked overtime.Alice’s Eerie Dream was also on the menu again, with the beautiful Mary’Alice’ Reynaud in the role of Alice, who had turned into a hooker. She entered the stage in a very sensual way and touched her fellow musicians very shortly one by one. After that she contributed in the vocal department very strongly!
The songs which will appear on the next studio album were already played as well; this time all in sequence. Torn Apart, Closer To Irreversible (with a guest role by former drummer Toff ’Crazy Monk) and Artificial Paradises sounded even better than when I heard them for the first time earlier this year, therefore I’m already looking forward to hearíng them on Torn Apart after its expected release date of late 2014! The Last Oddity also ended this regular set and blew me away once again. This live version really sets the stage on fire and lifts this epic piece to an even higher level, mainly because of Mary’s additional vocal contributions, but the guitar tandem of Christophe Obadia and Mathieu Spaeter makes this song very special too. The way they entertained the audience by playing together on a single guitar really put a smile on my face!
The smile stayed there after they finished this piece of music with the final part of Supper’s Ready again. Thank God they returned to the stage for an encore and to perform their version of Supertramp’s School. As previously, the harmonica had been replaced by a didgeridoo and was played by Obadia. After this well performed cover, a nice extra was served with the addition of a not-foreseen birthday song for someone in the audience. The band who had to follow this act and finish the event certainly had to come up with something special to top this awesome performance!
Comedy Of Errors
It’s hard to say whether the Scottish musicians from Glasgow ‘beat’ the performance of Franck Carducci and his band. Well, to be honest it doesn’t really matter, because after all it wasn’t a competition. What I do know is that they most certainly entertained the crowd to the level of the act before them. Of course I was curious how they’d perform the many songs, taken from their last albums Disobey (2001, see review) and Fanfare & Fantasy (2013, see review) live on stage.
To be honest, I never doubted them to succeed and play their complex music in front of an audience flawlessly, an audience which was surprisingly rather large if you know how few people know this band’s music. This certainly motivated the band to give a strong show, a show that must have been rather difficult for guitarist Sam McCulloch, because he joined the band only very recently to replace Mark Spalding. So thumbs up for him, because he played the guitar parts excellently! You could dream away on his melodic solos many a time, just like you could at the moments keyboard player Jim Johnston treated us to a wonderful solo. As for the rhythm section I don’t have any complaints either. Bruce Levick played his drum parts in a very relaxed manner and got bassist John Fitzgerald to play a solo part on his bass from time to time. Those who were present can only agree that lead singer Joe Cairney was the main attraction during the band’s performance. First off I must pay Joe a big complement for his excellent voice. It’s just as strong as on the afore mentioned studio albums. Bravo! Furthermore he is a wonderful host who tells all kinds of stories in between the songs like, for instance, about the recent referendum about Scottish independence. It probably had to do with the title of one of the songs they performed called: Joke.
The days spent in Amsterdam to play at Paradiso were mentioned as well, which must have been in 1987 when he was only 15 years of age or 21 or 22 or somewhere around there… Anyway, one of the spectators from those days was present in the audience today, to see if they still could make his heart beat faster. They made mine, because many of the musical highlights of their latest releases were performed, like The Student Prince. An epic piece divided into four parts. Too bad they didn’t include Part 4- Green Light Coda and only went for Part 1- When Will I See You Again, Part 2- And So To Bed and Part 3- Foolcircle. A nice surprise could be heard at the end of the third part; a very small section of Tubular Bells (1973) from Mike Oldfield’s debut album was included.
The encore was reserved for the band’s musical legacy of the eighties. During their performance of Times There Was it was easy to tell which bands influenced them in those days: Marillion with Fish on vocals. No argue about that! B ut a second neo-progressive rock outfit could be mentioned, especially when you wear their t-shirt on stage: I’m talking about IQ. When Joe took off his black coat and black blouse he revealed a shirt with a print of The Wake (1985) on it. With this strong encore from Comedy Of Errors a very strong concert from the band in the Netherlands for the first time in years was ended. Hopefully they will return in 2015, and maybe even in the company of bands like Credo and/ or Abel Ganz. I would certainly like that!
Finally a big thank you to the people of The Dutch Serious Music Café for organizing a fantastic double-bill which featured two amazing acts! Bravo to them!
Dank voor de mooie foto’s van Julia Niemeijer en Piet van Duin!