GILGAMESJ- Stadspodium Go, Leerdam, November 25, 2017

This was supposed to be the CD release party of the new album of GILGAMESJ. However, at the night of the gig, the CD was not finished yet. That’s a shame, but I’m glad that the band didn’t call off the show. It has been far too long, since we saw GILGAMESJ play live and today they would play at Stadspodium Go in their home base Leerdam. This sure adds something special to this gig, don’t you think? Before the show, there was a get together of a lot of old rockers and long term fans of the band and we saw many familiar faces. Even our backdoor neighbour Jeroen showed up, who used to play in SANITY and is now the guitarist/vocalist of pop /rock band SPOOL. A lot of nice stories have been told and many great memories were shared. The venue has got descending seats from which you’ll have a perfect view on stage. Add to that the high quality musicianship of these experienced band members and you can’t go wrong here. Right before the show, we also showed keyboard player Chris van Hoogdalem and bass player Rene Sterk a copy of our vinyl single of their first band ALPHA, which was a real nice surprise for these gents. It’s a signed copy now in our collection, after bringing back some nice stories about the good old days of this band. It has been a rough time for GILGAMESJ, when drummer Jacques van Oevelen suddenly passed away, but their search for a steady drummer is over now and they also present their new drummer Rob Boshuijzen here today. When everything is ready and everybody has got something to drink, the show will start, so let’s dim the lights, set your camera and we welcome the one and only GILGAMESJ!!!!!

Some things never change, when the band opens very powerful with “The Man With Muscle And Blood” of the legendary HUGHES // THRALL album “Hughes Thrall”. What a great opener, especially because guitarist Gerrie den Hartog plays his first solo spot there. Many songs are well known, if you go to the band’s live shows on a regular basis, and some of tonight’s newer songs will probably also be on the long awaited album. I really don’t mind, if they would add this cover on the album as well. “Lightning Strikes” is taken from the compilation album “Harder Than A Millstone”, released in 1991, but it still feels like only yesterday. I’ve always liked the song “No Contact”, which comes next. Another great moment is, when the band announces the GAMMA cover “Voyager”. It’s almost a must to play it and it’s there, where Gerrie shows the public what he is really capable of. He is probably one of the most underrated guitar players in Holland, I guess. Many bigger names in the scene could learn a lot from him. His style is a true mix of Ronnie Montrose and Michael Schenker and I’m not kidding you! Obviously, these guys still have a lot of fun playing together. This GAMMA cover belongs to the most beautiful songs ever written, as far as I’m concerned and I’m very glad that GILGAMESJ holds the legacy high of the late Ronnie Montrose, because of it. The more up-tempo “Right Here, Right Now” will surely be on the new album and it’s in their live shows for a much longer time. Besides guitarist Gerrie den Hartog, whose name will always be directly connected to GILGAMESJ, we have Sylvester van Leeuwen on lead guitar, who picks every solo spot he can take. Not only is he a perfect twin partner of Gerrie, but he definitely is capable of playing some mean lead guitar parts as well. He is without a doubt a great guitar player and stands proud, next to names like Stanley Sanders and Henny van Santen, who did the job before him in GILGAMESJ, eight years ago. Correct me if I’m wrong, but “Where Is The Love”, “Down Like Rain” and “Tales Of No Tomorrow” are three brand new songs in a row. These songs will definitely be on the new album, which will be a collection of songs written over a long period of time ranging from 1983 to 2017. I think that the fans are in for a real treat, as I heard some very cool twin guitar parts and some amazing vocal lines by Frank. When you hear him singing, it all looks so damn easy. Obviously, he’s one of a very few singers, that still knows to hit the right notes all the way. And his humorous remarks are also a very important part of the show. He’s constantly in touch with the crowd, whenever possible. That’s the job of a good front man and Frank is still doing that with a lot of passion after all these years. If you listened closely tonight, you even heard him sing a short ‘Sinterklaas’ tune in the second half of the set. He must have been very pleased seeing (Arie) Piet Bogerd showing up, I guess. The first set closes with “Revolution”, a classic GILGAMESJ song from that infamous “Take One” mini album, that is finally set to receive a follow up. “Take One” belongs to the ten best hard rock albums ever made in Holland. And if you’re not really convinced, you’re reading the wrong website here. There is a short break to fill up the glasses and afterwards the second part will be on. We have a bit of time to socialize and get something to drink. I must admit, that I have a very positive feeling about the new drummer and many people that we spoke after the first set, were also positively surprised. I’m glad, that they’ve found a suitable replacement on such short notice. After the break, the band carries on with “Carry On”. It must have been a coincidence. The song “Into The Fire” has already been written in 1988 and every devoted hard rock fan and all the long term fans of the band might know it from the “Metal In Rocks I” compilation. The keyboards, that I hear tonight, take care of a very nice DEEP PURPLE type of sound at times. I like that a lot. “The Unknown” continues and with “Down The Road” we’re heading to something special. Both drummers are honored by the band tonight. Rob gets the stage to himself to show the public that he’s an amazing drummer. He’s fast, he’s powerful and he’s also technically very well educated. He’s a versatile drummer that has got it all. Of course Jacques can’t be replaced that easily, but I think that the band has found a very worthy replacement. Besides that, he’s also a very friendly person to communicate with. Remember his name, when you want to get rid of a giant forest, because this man is a first class woodchopper and he proved that tonight with his lengthy drum solo. Then it’s time for a serious moment, when the band pays tribute to the late Jacques van Oevelen (RIP). And they do that in a very special way by means of a cover song, namely QUEENSRYCHE’s “Silent Lucidity”. This was really a very special moment and what a superb song! For a moment, I am totally speechless and I don’t know what to say. Jacques would have loved it. What a shame, that he’s not among us anymore. It all went so fast. Also, the band members are out of balance for a short moment. Such a difficult moment, in which they battled very well. Sitting on his own cloud, very high up above us, Jacques definitely gave the band a big ‘thumbs up’, you’d better believe it. “Lost In Paradise” is taken from the ZIXTH ZENSE album, but before that it already belonged to the lengthy back catalogue of GILGAMESJ songs. I still think it’s an amazing song. These riffs cling to your mind so easily and when you hear them again, they just sound like magic to your ears. “Dreams” continues and in “Lost Horizon” I hear the DEEP PURPLE keyboard parts again. In the meantime, the atmosphere is getting very cozy and I see many people dancing in front of the stage, especially during the older songs. Piet Bogerd is creating a little space for himself and old times will relive again, when the band starts “Daybreak”. Ganzenhaut, chickenskin, kippenvel, you give it a name and I’ve got it. Officially, the show is all over after that, but it ain’t over until the fat lady sings. There are still a few songs on the list and when they get back and continue with “Oppression”, the crowd goes crazy one more time. It’s always good to see GILGAMESJ in their hometown and this is no exception to the rule. They could go on for hours, if it was up to me. They have one more song to go though and that’s “Ticket To Heaven” from the “Metal Clogs” album. Those were the days. Their gig in The Hague has been postponed, so I’ve heard. Listening to the songs that will be on the new album, we can’t wait for “Another Daybreak”. GILGAMESJ still belongs to the top of the Dutch metal scene, as far as I’m concerned. Not too many bands can top this high quality, no matter how hard they try. What a great night at the Stadspodium Go in Leerdam and I’d recommend more of these evenings, please. Many thanks for this great night Chris, René, Rob, Sylvester, Gerrie and Frank of GILGAMESJ.

*Text by Toine van Poorten & pix by Rita van Poorten.

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