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.:Concert Reviews:.

24/11/2006 – TÝR/WINTERSUN/AMON AMARTH (Borgerhout, Belgium)

When bands like WINTERSUN and AMON AMARTH come to your country - and not for the Graspop festival - you just cannot afford to skip that day and wait for the next arrival, because that won't happen so soon anymore, I guess. Add the Faroese newcomers from TÝR and you know you're in for a great night of Viking themed Metal.

WINTERSUN's self-titled debut came out two years ago, but Nuclear Blast thought it would be nice if there was a touredition and added a DVD with bootleg recordings of the band's Summer Breeze performance. It was bootleggish indeed, as the quality of the footage was not superb, nor was the sound. But it gave a pretty good impression of what to expect of the band's performance. The Viking masters from Sweden, AMON AMARTH, recently released their sixth album, "With Oden On Our Side", after the critically acclaimed "Fate Of Norns" and the DVD "Wrath Of The Norsemen", containing three DVD's with lots of gig footage and backstage stuff. Finally, TÝR signed with Napalm Records at the beginning of this year and saw their successful album "Eric The Red" re-issued with two bonus tracks and also released a new album, "Ragnarok" in September. Both albums showing this band's skills and quality. Thanks to the love, eh, interest of AMON AMARTH, the Faroese musicians were off on their first real tour.

I arived later than planned at the venue, since waiting for a couple of friends and the usual train problems lead to the delay. Upon entering the venue, lots of people were already enjoying TÝR's performance. I was just in time to enjoy most of the set and although they still need some experience, the gig was very good and a bit awe-inspiring. I don't know how many people knew the band, but I do hope that the band's performances on this tour will give them the necessary popularity-boost and sell many records, because they truly deserve it.

Since most of their songs are long enough to form albums of at least 60 minutes, they only played six songs and focused more on "Eric The Red" than their latest, "Ragnarok". Understandable perhaps, since the first one was re-released in March. But I would gladly pay to see them do a full show. :-)

Playlist:

* "Regin Smišur"
* "Dreams"
* "The Wild Rover"
* "Hail To The Hammer"
* "Ragnarok"
* "Ramund Hin Unge"

TÝR
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The Finnish Viking/melodic Death Metallers from WINTERSUN were on next, but because I had an interview with TÝR, I couldn't stay long and just saw the first couple of songs. But they too surprised me positively and all went very smooth and solid. With only one album, it's understandable they still have to work hard on more songs and albums to have enough material for a full show. Jari's rough vocals are amazing, despite the fact that he doesn't have a technique. Musically as well the band gave a very good performance and the solos came out strong.

Short performance for me, longer for the others, but certainly a must-see band. I had a chance to talk to Jari after his performance, but only shortly, and he told me the new album should be out in August 2007. Fingers crossed for this date and I'm pretty sure the album will be killer.

Playlist:

* Intro
* "Winter Madness"
* "Beyond The Dark Sun"
* "Death And The Healing"
* "Beautiful Death"
* "Battle Against Time"
* "Starchild"

WINTERSUN
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AMON AMARTH, the melodic Death Metal band who's been playing Viking-themed Metal since little over 10 years with the debut "Once Sent From The Golden Hall" coming out in 1998. The band's members are all tough, big guys and even in that way do justice to their image.

Shortly before the tour kicked off, you could send in the songs you wanted the band to play. Needless to say the response was massive and thus the setlist(s) were set up according to the requested songs. But since an absolutely great new album, "With Oden On Our Side", came out in October, this tour was focused on those new songs. "Vallhall Awaits Me", "Runes To My Memory" and the speedy and brilliant "Asator" are a couple of examples. Of course, even older material was on the list - e.g. "Fate Of Norns", "Death In Fire", "The Last With Pagan Blood" -, even dating back to "Once Sent From The Golden Hall".

This was - like with the other two bands - the first time that I saw the band perform on stage and it made me happy as can be. AMON AMARTH live means thundering drums, heavy riffs that still go on inside you long after the gig and foremost Johan's amazing vocal chords. Growling like there's no end, song after song. During the performance the audience was very active, with lots of crowdsurfing.

One point of criticism was the amount of smoke that was used, which prevented from taking good pics. Still, that's only detail compared with the atmosphere, the happy feeling, the entire evening of pure, honest, kick-ass Metal. Truly the best concerts I've seen this year.

If you haven't seen AMON AMARTH live yet, especially in a venue, go for it. You won't regret it. ;-)

Playlist:

* Intro
* "Valhall Awaits Me"
* "Runes To My Memory"
* "Death In Fire"
* "Fate Of Norns"
* "1000 Years Of Oppression"
* "With Oden On Our Side"
* "Asator"
* "An Ancient Sign"
* "Cry Of The Black Birds"
* "Last With Pagan Blood"
* "Once Sent From The Golden Hall"
* "Gods Of War Arise"
* "Pursuit Of Vikings"
* "Versus The World"
* "Victorious March"

AMON AMARTH
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14/11/2006 – FIREWIND/DRAGONFORCE (Borgerhout, Belgium)

On Tuesday the 14th of November UK Powermetallers DRAGONFORCE returned to Belgium after having played earlier in Vosselaar at the Biebob. This time the other venue was chosen, Hof Ter Lo in Borgerhout. This one's also easier to reach via public transport. The band's last album, "Inhuman Rampage", came out in the first months of this year, while the newest recordings of the Greek support band FIREWIND (aka Gus G. and the gang) has been available since September.

After spending time in DREAM EVIL, MYSTIC PROPHECY and NIGHTRAGE as well, Gus found it difficult to combine it all and decided to concentrate on one band only: FIREWIND. The new album, "Allegiance", was mixed with the help of Fredrik Nordström, one of DREAM EVIL's main musicians and ex-colleague of Gus. FIREWIND also changed its line-up in two positions: vocals and drums. Stian (PAGAN's MIND) and Chity (ex-AVALON a.o., now since a couple of days in DOMAIN) were thanked for their services and were replaced by respectively Marc Cross (who left HELLOWEEN) and Apollo Papathanasio (ex-MAJESTIC, TIME REQUIEM).

The result on this fourth album is of course good to very good and the sound is needless to say very powerful. Of course, it's not all true to the core, as certain songs tend to be written for more airplay. But let's get back to the gig.

Upon arrival at the venue, there were very few people and you could take all the time you needed to have some drinks, check out the merchandise, buy cd's from the guys from Metalzone, etc... Then at around 20h15 the intro was played for the first band of that evening: FIREWIND. Starting of with the powerful titletrack and not stopping until after 3 songs or so. Naturally the tour is to promote "Allegiance" and four songs made it onto the setlist: "Allegiance" - "Insanity" - "Falling to pieces" - "Till The End Of Time". Totally not a bad choice, if I may say so. Of course, my favourite, "Breaking The Silence" could not be played since the band didn't bring th Swedish singer Tara with them.

The other songs came off the previous albums, and I do mean all of them. It seems that the guys wanted to show how the old material sounds with a new vocalist. I'd say it was ok, but nothing special.

The drumsolo was... simplistic and nothing more than a bit of tomtom-tomtomtom-tomtomtom-.... Anyhow, you get the picture. Even Simon Wright from DIO always does a far better job. Marc showing his drumskills on the "making of" of the new album also was better than what he demonstrated in Borgerhout.

FIREWIND ended their set with a partly rip-off of THERAPY?'s "Nowhere" song. FIREWIND calls it "Tyranny". Sure, you can't avoid sounding somewhat similar to other bands/songs, but I'm surprised it's 1) very well copied, and 2) they can get away with it.

All in all, FIREWIND's performance was good and they sound good live, but there's no depth, no connection. At least, that's how I perceived it, contrary to some exstatic fans.

Playlist:

"Allegiance"
"Insanity"
"I Am The Anger"
"Fire And The Fury "
Drum Solo
"Between Heaven And Hell"
"Brother's Keepers"
"Falling To Pieces"
"Till The End Of Time"
"Tyranny"

FIREWIND
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DRAGONFORCE was the headliner and with reason! While being bashed by many for being cheesy and whatever more along those lines, I for one do like their music and was thus very thrilled to see them do it on stage. It = playing the songs, not something else, you perverts. ;-)

While in the beginning of the evening there wasn't much of a crowd, things were drastically different when DRAGONFORCE's time approached. Then you could no longer leave the place without struggling on your way out. All by manner of speech of course. The people also were very much alive and cheered the band on, song after song and even when ZP divided the audience into seperate sides for a little moshpit, which did indeed come to existence. But it was only a small one and rather short.

Songwise they too played material from their three albums, with most of it coming from the last two. I can't remember exactly which songs were played or in which order. I was having too much fun to write it down or memorize them.

While the albums can get boring after a couple of songs, this is totally not the case live. Song after song, shredding, soloing, thundering drums, etc... the typical DRAGONFORCE elements ruled and dominated. Boring? Not one second. Extra entertainment was added by some short back-and-forth insults between Herman (guitars) and Sam (guitars). ZP (vocals) would also join with great remarks. Everyone (well, almost everyone, except those in the back) found it hilarious.

I've read multiple times that, while they sound good on cd, they suck live and seem to sound messy. Either they've messed with the buttons last Tuesday or those were the occasions when things didn't go as expected. But the performance in Borgerhout was flawless, no matter the instrument, no matter which guitarsolo, which vocal lines, it all fit perfectly. This also helped in creating a great atmosphere. DRAGONFORCE is a great band which consists of great musicians, no matter if they're among the best or not. In addition, such a concert also is great entertainment, with the jokes, interaction with the audience, etc...

I do like to add that Sam did have some guitar problems in the second part of the set, as his guitar sounded very weird and the solo didn't work. So Herman took over and showed everyone who's the better guitarist in the band, hahaha. :-) Meanwhile Sam grabbed his other guitar and then the solos did go well.

And how could I forget about Vadim's übercrazy keyboardsolo???? Damn. He didn't play it the normal way, but used his face and entire arms to produce crazy sounds, backed by beats. Even "The Simpsons" got their few seconds of fame. ;-) Plain fucking crazy, but a real pleasure-booster.

To conclude, it was one of the best gigs I've seen so far and I'm happy to have seen this remarkable band doing their thing live. This is a clear confirmation they're not fake.

Playlist:

These are the track I remember having been played (not listed in playing order, which I forgot). I don't know how much more there were and which, sorry.

From "Valley Of The Damned":

"Valley of the Damned"

From "Sonic Firestorm":

"My Spirit Will Go On"
"Fury of the Storm"
"Fields of Despair"
"Soldiers of the Wasteland"

From "Inhuman Rampage":

"Through the Fire and Flames"
"Revolution Deathsquad"
"Storming the Burning Fields"
"Operation Ground and Pound"
"Body Breakdown"
"Trail Of Broken Hearts"

DRAGONFORCE
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03/05/2006 – OCEANS OF SADNESS/GOD DETHRONED/BOLT THROWER (Gavere, Belgium)

I usually don't do to concerts on weekdays, as it's pretty tricky when you have a day-time job and have to get up early. But that particular Wednesday, the 3rd of May, had some great bands coming to Belgium and for once, it was fairly close to where I live, instead of the far Antwerp or Brussels.

UK's long-time Death Metallers BOLT THROWER are still promoting their last opus "Those Once Loyal", which came out in the last months of 2005. For the European tour, the band was supported by Belgian Melodic Death/Black Metalband OCEANS OF SADNESS and Canadian Death Metallers KATAKLYSM, who released their latest killer "In The Arms Of Devastation" in February. I knew BOLT THROWER by name and some of their music and "Those Once Loyal" has found a place in my collection, waiting for te rest of the back catalogue to be added as well. Same thing with "In The Arms Of Devastation". It was especially KATAKLSYM that convinced me to go, although after the gig it seemed I kinda underestimated primarily OCEANS OF SADNESS. Due to domestical problems shortly before the gig here in Belgium, KATAKLYSM had to step out of the tour, but BOLT THROWER soon found a replacement by the name of GOD DETHRONED, the Dutch Death Metalband who released their last album in 2004, titled "The Lair Of The White Worm".

Place to be was the G.O.C. Racing, a name I had never heard of. Located in a calm neighbourhood, one could easily spot the Metalheads enjoying a last drink before entering the venue. Small place, not a lot of people yet, very friendly people from the organisation Alcatraz Concerts. Filip is a great guy, who's very supportive of the scene and is a true Metalhead.

But on to the bands now, with OCEANS OF SADNESS (official website) kicking off at around 19h45. As said before, there weren't many people yet who witnessed the performance of this six-piece. Most songs came off the band's last album "Send In The Clowns". On the album these songs sound quite good, although it's a common problem on their other problems too that they kinda neglect (the sound of) the drums. However, this important instrument sounds ten times better on stage. Fingers crossed for the next album, which will be recorded very soon as vocalist Tijs told that the band would enter the studio within two weeks or so after the gig in Gavere.

Apparently, moments before going on stage, the band wrote the setlist on a couple of napkins. *lol* Very professional, guys. ;-) But it was fun seeing them lying there instead of a large piece of paper/poster as was the case with BOLT THROWER.

After "Two Voices" and right before beginning with the first of the two new songs - that will be on the new album - Guy (drums) had hit through his snare drum. Said Tijs: "Apparently the drums are fucked. Momentje..". A new snare drums was quickly found. Great moment to keep the audience's attention, but it's also better to have such an event than having to see a band playing song after song without anything special happening.

OCEANS OF SADNESS's performance was pretty flawless, except for the drum-incident. They're good on CD, they're even better on stage. Thumbs up and 'till next time, guys. I'm curious of how the new album will sound.

Playlist:

"Where Oceans Begin"
"Two Voices"
"(new song)"
"Eyes Like Fire"
"You've Slain"
"(new song, Sleeping Dogs?)"
"Hope Is Gone"

OCEANS OF SADNESS
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At about 20h45 the Dutch Death Metallers GOD DETHRONED (official website) came on stage. To avoid too much switching between gears, the band used BOLT THROWER's drumkit. Minutes before the rest of the band joined him, Ariën was already warming the skins of the drumkit. And he sure is very very good at it. The soundcheck for the guitars was over in a couple of seconds.

GOD DETHRONED played a mixture of old and more recent material, aka "The Lair Of the White Worm" songs. Most songs came speeding out of the speakers. It seems the sound was also heavier, louder than with OCEANS OF SADNESS. Fast riffs, double bass on the drums, ... speed was key and it was masterful. What I had of doubts was erased very quickly. The solos too weren't just played, since Henri (vocalist) sometimes molested his guitar with that 'stick'.

Every song was a hit and singing-along was not forbidden as songs like "Soul Sweeper" and "Sigma Enigma" have an excellent chrous for that prupose.

Like with OCEANS OF SADNESS, this was also my first gig of GOD DETHRONED, but I'm planning on seeing them more in the future. No doubt about that. But this also means another hijack on my finances, also to add their albums to my collection. *sigh* So many great bands, so many CDs to add. ;-)

Playlist:

"Nihilism"
"??"
"The Warcult"
"??"
"Soul Sweeper"
"??"
"Tombstone"
"Sigma Enigma"
"Serpent King"

GOD DETHRONED
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And then, the headlining band: long-time British Death Metal act BOLT THROWER (official website), back with Karl Willetts on vocals. Last year saw the release of the band's newest album "Those Once Loyal".

Of course, the band is still supporting that release and thus started the set with the first song of "Those Once Loyal". Here too, the performance was mindblowing, litteraly, since the heaviness was immense - especially if you stood in front ;-) - and the volume was turned up even more.

Karl Willetts sure is a beast on stage, grunting his lungs out of his body. Toward the second part of the set, the growls and drums seems to interfere with each other, making it sound as if Karl was just grunting to grunt, not caring for the lyrics. But with all this blasting, one can only wonder how KATAKLYSM would have sounded.

Old and new songs were played wiht great ease and professionalism. Of the musicians, especially Barry Thomson surprised and amazed me with his skills. Damn, that guy can play! Shredded like hell.

One problem with BOLT THROWER though is that a lot of their material tends to sound the same. Yes, they're a great band, and their music is also worth buying, but I guess some variation wouldn't hurt. You will probably hear the differences between the many songs if you're really into the band. ;-)

BOLT THROWER is a brutal band on stage and definitely worth the money if you want to get rid of the stress of the day or week. Do beware of the moshpits (if you're not into such things) that occur, but if you have someone behind you to prevent you from being 'hurt', you can be relieved in a big way and enjoy the gig without worries.

Playlist:

"At First Light"
"Entrenched"
"Mercenary"
"When Glory Beckons"
"World Eater"
"Cenotaph"
"The Killchain"
"Powder Burns"
"Inside The Wire"
"IVth Crusade"
"No Guts, No Glory"
"When Cannons Fade"

BOLT THROWER
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And finally a big 'thank you' to the people from Alcatraz Concerts and particularly Filip Nollet. A great guy who knows his Metal and is very dedicated to bringing Metal to Flanders and especially to regions where it's hard organizing gigs.


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18/02/2006 – DAMIAN WILSON/STREAM OF PASSION feat. AYREON (Vosselaar, Belgium)

Last year, Arjen Lucassen's new band STREAM OF PASSION released their debut "Embrace The Storm" and got many positive reviews for it. Arjen Lucassen needs no introduction anymore, I think, but he's best known for his AYREON albums, the last one being released in 2004: "The Human Equation".

STREAM OF PASSION is a band, not a rock opera mixture of artists. Vocalist/violin player Marcela Bovio did a very good performance on "The Human Equation" which made Arjen decide to do something that would put her more into the spotlights, hence STREAM OF PASSION.

A tour is necessary to promote the record and the band and while you're at it, why not add some songs from your AYREON project? So, in full this gives STREAM OF PASSION feat. AYREON.

Since ex-THRESHOLD vocalist Damian Wilson also contributed to the AYREON albums and has his own solo material, a joint-venture couldn't stay out and Damian would give his all first before Arjen and his friends amazed the fans.

The gig was scheduled for the Biebob venue in Vosselaar, which is closer to the Dutch border and harder to reach by public transport. It's also a lot smaller than Hof Ter Lo in Borgerhout and very hard to notice among the other houses. You could say it's a pub with a stage at the back. The accoustics are good, the lighting (i.e. spots) less.

Upon arrival, the place was already quite packed, although a lot of people were still entering after us. And so we drank something and waited for Damian to come on stage. Apparently Damian really is on his own - for the larger part. It was just him and an accoustic guitar. Before commencing his setlist, he first chatted a bit with the audience, throwing some inside and outside jokes from time to time. Apparently there were some people who had seen him perform on the tour before. Same thing goes for STREAM OF PASSION.

Anyhow, accoustic or not, the songs he played and sang were really of great quality. His powerful and melodic voice is something extraordinary as you immediately recognize it as Damian's. He can put a lot of emotion into a song and for a couple of songs a certain Dutch woman, Yolanda, joined him for a duet.

So, in between in the songs, Damian joked around, talked about the songs, and at a certain time was holding a poll to know what we would like to hear next: another depressing song, Yolanda coming back, and some other choices. A hilarious moment, in which most automatically knew what it would be (= Yolanda). :-)

Damian also asked some friends/colleagues to come on stage to play with him. So, Yolanda, one of the crew members I guess and another guy who took Damian's guitar. All together they played/sang the classis "Satisfaction" by the ROLLING STONES. Everyone in the room sang along with great joy. And Damian got what he was asking (i.e. hinting) for: crowdsurfing. ;-)

Prior to that, he also came down the stage into the audience while clapping his hands, wanting everyone to join along. Ofcourse, this only made the evening better and the contact between artist and audience couldn't be closer.

More info on Damian and his solo stuff can be found on his website: www.damianwilson.com.

Unfortunately I have no playlist, as it was the first time I saw and heard him solo. But I do remember the titles of two songs he sang:

"Please Don't Leave Me Till I Leave You" (a very nice, touching song)
"Homegrown" (during which the crowd was asked to sing he 'homegrown' part)

Damian Wilson is an amazing singer, with a good sense of humour (something typically British, I guess ;-)) and live you must have seen him at least once. More is recommended. Furthermore, he was very happy with the positive cheering and singing along, like a kid getting a new toy. So extra points for his interaction wit the public. ;-)

DAMIAN WILSON
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After this very nice start, everyone was up and ready for the headliner: STREAM OF PASSION (www.streamofpassion.com), who were not only accompanied by Damian for some AYREON and other songs, but also by the beautiful Diana Bovio, the sister of the equally beautiful Marcela.

Davy Mickers was the first to come on stage and kick off with the first track of "Embrace The Storm". The guy hits his drumkit like hell, producing a powerful and mighty sound. Alejandro Millan is next, sitting close to the drums behind his keyboards. And then Lorri, Marcela and mastermind Arjen join the fold, playing the first couple of songs of the debut album.

Of course, with only one album you can't play all songs to fill the evening. Unless your band is SHAAMAN or DIO or ... ;-) But it said 'feat. AYREON' and many songs have been made under that name. Unfortunately, I don't know all the songs by heart, so the playlist may not be complete.

Next to the STREAM OF PASSION songs, plenty of other songs were played and one would think it's more a tour to promote AYREON than STREAM OF PASSION. But the atmosphere was excellent, people singing along, headbanging whenever the riffs demanded it. One remark about headbanging: it's a great thing to do, to get into the music, letting yourself go and whatever more... but it's not funny for the others when you don't think of people standing behind you, with the result of throwing your hair into one's face.

Anyhow, it didn't ruin my evening at all. In fact, it got better. It appears that Marcela has learned some Dutch words while rehearsing and recording with the Dutch members of STREAM OF PASSION: "jullie een geweldig publiek zijn." The audience cheered loudly. :-) If she keeps practising, she won't have to use English anymore to address the crowd when playing in Belgium or The Netherlands. ;-)

Accompanied by her sister, they also sang AYREON and STAR ONE songs which originally were sung by other singers and it was a bit strange when Marcela and Diana did it. But "Valley Of The Queens" was extremely well done, almost no difference at all compared to the original. Also for the other songs, the combo Marcela-Diana is a killer. Add Damian to the bunch and you've got a great evening/night ahead of you.

Of course, Arjen himself also sings on his albums, albeit not for a whole song. So live as well, he needs his voice and there it was. Just - or very close - like on the albums. At a certain point, during I-can't-remember-which-song-but-it-was-rather-heavy, Marcela presents the band members one by one, starting with Davy, Johan, not forgetting the beautiful (said Marcela) Lori, keyboardist Alejandro and last but not least, *cough*-no-need-to-mention-me-despite-me-being-very-important-to-the-band-*cough* aka Arjen Lucassen.

And as said earlier, there were people who had seen the band earlier on tour, mainly Dutch people, of whom a couple had some inflatable bananas, which were used to wave during the songs. But the reason for having brought the bananas is as a reference to the banana-smileys on the forum. And so, Alejandro had to do the little dance of one of those bananas. Arjen was asked, even pushed/pressured, to do it too, but he used a lame excuse: he said he had backproblems. Which he has (had?). Arjen also announced there would be a new single coming out: "Out in the Real World", with a cover of LED ZEPPELIN included. They also played that cover Saturday: "When The Levee Breaks". I didn't know the song (yes yes, shame on me. :P), but I do think the original sounds better, although STREAM OF PASSION's version wasn't bad either.

The mix DAMIAN WILSON/STREAM OF PASSION offered a nice suprise and performances by both parties. Bringing AYREON songs live also was a job well done, knowing you would need more people for that. The sound was good, the drums (or drumming) was amazing, Johan's bass playing was top notch, the beautiful chants of Marcela, Diana and Damian were flawless, ... Be it a studio recording or a live performance, Arjen and his mates can handle it without problems. Be sure to check 'em out when you can. :-) In the end, they were going to hold a signing session, but since the place was packed, it was better not to wait.

Playlist:

"Spellbound"
"Passion"
"??" (AYREON or STAR ONE)
"Wherever You Are"
"??" (AYREON)
"??" (STREAM OF PASSION or AYREON or STAR ONE
"Valley Of The Queens" (AYREON)
"Haunted"
"Charm Of The Seer" (AYREON)
"Deceiver"
"Songs Of The Ocean" (STAR ONE)
"Day One: Vigil" (AYREON)
"Day Three: Pain" (AYREON)
"Day Ten: Memories" (AYREON)
"Out In The Real World"
"The Castle Hall" (AYREON)
"Into The Black Hole" (AYREON)
"When The Levee Breaks" (LED ZEPPELIN cover)
"Day Eleven: Love" (AYREON)

STREAM OF PASSION feat. AYREON
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03/02/2006 – XYSTUS/EPICA/KAMELOT (Borgerhout, Belgium)

KAMELOT's second performance on Belgian soil in 2 years. Well, the third, but Graspop Metal Meeting is a festival, so I'm not counting that. Last year, they attracted a lot of people in Vorst at the venue Ten Weyngaert. This time (last Friday), the gig was sold out a couple of weeks before D-Day. Again EPICA joined, but also brought Dutch colleagues XYSTUS (pronounce 'existus') with them.

The doors opened at 19h30, but apparently not everyone had arrived yet as there was still plenty of room inside at the bar and in the gig room itself.

First band to begin was XYSTUS (official website), who plays Melodic Powermetal. Nothing spectacular, as there are plenty more of these bands in this genre. Still, their music is pretty solid with especially their uptepo songs standing out. As is normal in a melodic band, keyboards play a big role, but apparently the guy behind the keys was a guest musician. Nevertheless, his input was very inline with the other instruments.

Bas' vocals are good for this kind of Metal, but when it's going the heavier way, like they did with a cover of METALLICA's "Damage Inc.", his voice was not rough enough. Musically, XYSTUS' version was quite good and their guitars were well tuned. With a nice mixture of mid- and uptempo songs, XYSTUS was a decent band to begin with.

Their debut "Receiving Tomorrow" was released in 2004 via The Electric Co. and I gonna check it out. Live they're quite good, but I think I'll have a clearer impression on their music when having heard the album.

XYSTUS
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And then it was time for the first half of the 'couple' EPICA/KAMELOT to do their thing. As they've already played many shows in Belgium, EPICA are really famous in the Benelux. Extremely (!!) famous, as I witnessed the enormous enthusiasm the fans expressed after every song.

EPICA too changed their setlist drastically as they now have many more songs to perform live. Last year, only "Dance of Fate" and "The Last Crusade" were played, to give the audience a pre-taste of the new album, which was released a few weeks after the gig. This time more songs from "Consign To Oblivion" made it onto the paper.

Backing tapes had to be used for the choir and symphonic parts, although Coen also played alot of those on his keyboards. Jeroen's drums have also changed as he's now sponsored by Pearl. ;-)

Next to the heavy, headbang and/or sing-along songs like "Cry For The Moon" and "Seif Al Din", the long "Consign To Oblivion" also was presented. Needless to say, thumbs up for this great piece of music.

For "Seif Al Din" Mark wanted to see a pit, but despite some movement in the crowd, I don't think you could speak of a pit, which in my opinion doesn't suit this kind of music.

Simone also sang an accoustic song, only accompanied by Coen on keyboards. The song itself doesn't appear on neither of the two albums, so it must be one that was added to a single. And since this was the first time that I heard it, I can't tell what the title is (probably "Linger" or "Palladium"). Still, Simone's singing came out very nice, although there are better songs than that one.

No matter which song EPICA played, the crowd's enthusiasm was limitless.

Another song that came off the single "Quietus", was a cover version of DEATH's "Crystal Mountain" - the original being a great song, by the way. EPICA's version is... good, but the keyboards didn't do the song much good. It's a nice tribute, but Chuck's version still reigns. ;-)

Again, EPICA played a more than solid set, not to say a very good one. For the future everything looks perfect, although 'predictability' seems to gain more power.

Playlist, as far as I remember:

"Intro"
"Dance of Fate" (?? I'm not sure about this one)
"Sensorium"
"Quietus"
"The Last Crusade"
"Cry For The Moon"
"Linger" or "Palladium"
"Blank Infinity"
"Crystal Mountain" (originally by DEATH)
"Seif Al Din"
"Mother Of Light"
"Consign To Oblivion"

EPICA
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And then (22h30), time for KAMELOT to show their already well-known skills. This time, there was a bigger emphasis on their last album "The Black Halo", with seven songs this time, instead of four last year.

It seemed as if the band was speeding their way through the setlist as the first couple of songs were over before I realized it. It's like they skipped the solos and whatever more, but it could also be my imagination and me being too focused on their music.

Also in those first songs, it sounded like Roy had a cold or something (or he was tired), since his voice didn't reach full capacity. Last year's gig certainly was superb. After the first 5 songs or so, things started getting better.

As I said, the setlist had changed a lot skipping songs from "The Fourth Legacy", but concentrating more on "The Black Halo", "Epica" and "Karma".

Like on the album and on their previous gigs - and this is also a big reason why these two bands tour together ;-) - Simone from EPICA joined Roy on vocals during "The Haunting". EPICA mainman Mark did the same during "March Of Mephisto". But here as well, the result was less good than the last time.

The KAMELOT-family has expanded. While Oliver Palotai was a guest musician last year, since a couple of months he's a full-time member responsible for the keyboards. And last Friday, his performance was good (nothing more), despite some sound problems. An obligatory solo also entertained the massive crowd.

Either Casey didn't bring his drumkit on tour, or the crew and band didn't think it necessary to unload it from the truck, since he (Casey) played on the same kit as the drummer from XYSTUS did. Come to think of it, all three bands used the same kit. So, was it one owned by the organization? Not that I mind. ;-) No KAMELOT show without a drumsolo, just like last year. Although I think last year, Casey's performance was a little better. ;-)

Very nice to hear live was the last 'song' on "Karma": the trilogy "Elizabeth". Very well done!

Next to that, four encores were added: "March Of Mephisto" (with Roy in his long coat), "Epilogue" (the bonus track on the Japanese version of "The Black Halo"), the great "Karma" and what better song to say goodbye than the emotional "Farewell". :-)

Compared to last year, this was a lesser good gig from this great band. One has to admit it. The sad thing was that - apparently - many people started leaving the place after EPICA or during KAMELOT's performance. Seems either they only came for EPICA and/or found that KAMELOT could have been better. KAMELOT's going to shoot a DVD in Norway very soon, so I hope this will be good. Also because it's a home match for Roy. ;-)

Playlist:

Intro - "The Black Halo"
"Soul Society"
"Edge Of Paradise"
"Center of the Universe"
"Abandoned"
"Forever"
Keyboard solo
"The Haunting (Somewhere in Time)" w/ Simone (EPICA)
"Moonlight"
Drum solo
"When the Lights Are Down"
"Elizabeth (I, II, III)"
----------
"March of Mephisto" w/ Mark (EPICA)
"Epilogue"
"Karma"
"Farewell"

KAMELOT
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Concerts 2006

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FIREWIND/
DRAGONFORCE -
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OCEANS OF SADNESS/
GOD DETHRONED/
BOLT THROWER -
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TÝR/WINTERSUN/
AMON AMARTH -
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XYSTUS/EPICA/
KAMELOT -
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WILSON, DAMIEN/
STREAM OF PASSION -
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