Saturday, November 02, 2013

Little Devil, Tilburg, The Netherlands

Mario’s Metal Meeting finally fitted in our schedule. When this event takes place, we are usually out of the country, but this time it was organized a bit later than normal. SEVENTH SEAL and JAGUAR are the main reason why we decided that we simply had to be there. It was also the first sold out edition. The whole bill was surprisingly good and armed with a plastic bag full of chocolate letters for the guys of JAGUAR, we went to the center of Tilburg for a great night of true heavy metal at the Little Devil.

I must admit, that I’ve never been to the Little Devil in Tilburg before. And the last time, I walked these streets, must have been to visit Tommy, the metal record store in Tilburg. That was a very long time ago. Mario van Dooren is the organizer of this seventh metal meeting, which kicks off with the Dutch band SEVENTH SEAL. They are a true eye-opener for people, who are not familiar with the band. Their sound originates from the early eighties and tonight they’ll prove that they came to kill. Their debut album “Baptized By Fire” sounds like it was recorded in the eighties and their latest demo CD firmly kicks your ass, too. All the more reason to support these five guys, who already gained our respect in their previous bands. Our first acquaintance with the band was at de Meester in Almere at Meesterlijk Metaal. Both festivals are being organized by die hard metal fans, that have their heart at the right place. And this band fits just perfect in that ‘Do It Yourself’ atmosphere. They’re not only musicians, but also die hard music fans themselves. This creates a strong bond with their fans, which reflects in the spontaneous way they play their forty-five minutes set. “Time Will Come”, “Conspiracy” and “Like A Razor” continue the show and the band really seems to be in their element right now. Many headbangers have settled themselves in front of the stage and the gap between the audience and the band becomes smaller and smaller each song. I even noticed two really small headbangers in front of the stage with headphones on to protect their ears. I think, that their daddy has teached them these skills (yes, I mean you, Mario!). When SEVENTH SEAL close their set with “The Chosen One” and “Firedance”, the audience looks pretty warmed up. You can leave that up to these die hard rockers! To me, they were a great opener, rocking it out firmly and giving me the feeling of being eighteen again. But that was 172 years ago…. (lol). SEVENTH SEAL thanks their audience and clears the space for these Greek metal heads of RUTHLESS STEEL.

Aliki and her boys stand for some real exciting true metal. This relatively young band was founded in 2012 and from the first notes on, they really catch my attention. Not only because of their good looking front lady, dressed in an AIR RAID shirt, but also because of the riffs and high pitched vocals in “Die In The Night” and “Ruthless Steel”, that are really breathtaking. There is a lot of action on the small stage. Young people really want to move on stage, when making music. “Point Of No Return” and “Evil War” show us a band, that truly knows to entertain people and convinces every soul in the small club with their energetic performance. And it works, because during “Power Of Hate” (from their four track EP “Die In The Night”) and “Cursed Legion” the response gets louder and you’ll see more fists in the air. “Escape” and “Live Wire” continue this exciting set of RUTHLESS STEEL and with “United As One” they actually sum up in about four minutes what this whole festival is all about. The unity of rockers is huge on occasions like this and together they feel like one big happy family. And the atmosphere at Mario’s Metal Meeting is the perfect example of what it feels like, when die hard rockers get together and party out loud. The RUTHLESS STEEL show closes with the PRETTY MAIDS cover “Back To Back”. At the back of the club I see people with air guitars, cranking out their guitar solos…..back to back of course. The perfect way to close this powerful set, which leaves nothing more to be desired.

The swords are sharpened now and Dutch metal heads BLACK KNIGHT will take over the stage next. The dilemma for us is really huge now, because we have to plan some diner, too. That’s why we decide to watch just half of the set, because we’ve seen BLACK KNIGHT at the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival already and we haven’t seen RED DRAGON before, who are next on the bill. BLACK KNIGHT stands for solid heavy metal in the best JUDAS PRIEST / PRIMAL FEAR kind of style, including double lead guitars, a singer who can sing, scream and entertain, a stunning bass player and a drummer, who keeps the sword up for ‘the knight’ for many years now. They open with “Story Of The Day” and “Exvacated”. The double lead breaks show us an old school band, who already started their career in the early eighties and still playing music that is suitable for new born metallers as well. Songs like “Next Time You’ll Die” and “Beware Of The Blind” prove that their very solid sound is being admired by many people in the audience and the people up front of the stage seem to eat out of their hands. Those, who are not convinced yet, are also crossing the line, when the band plays the HAMMERFALL cover “Let The Hammer Fall”. It’s indeed a point of recognition, that nobody can deny. “Profound” and “Tale From The Darkside” mark the middle of BLACK KNIGHT’s ballsy set. And in between those songs we decide to go to the shoarma restaurant across the street to get some fast food together with Big Al and Anja. In the meantime BLACK KNIGHT closes their set with “The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)” (JUDAS PRIEST / FLEETWOOD MAC cover), “The One To Blame”, “Rival” and the PRIMAL FEAR cover “Running In The Dust”.

When we return at the cozy Little Devil, we are just in time to see RED DRAGON. This band started their career, just like BLACK KNIGHT, in the earliest stage of the roaring eighties. They know what the scene is like and because they play in their hometown it is fair to have them open up before the two NWOBHM bands are going to kill the night. They supported DEEP MACHINE here, a couple of weeks ago, so they know the drill. When they open with “Ghostrider”, it becomes clear that we’re dealing with a very skillful band. They also know their public very well and they are very driven in what they do. When they continue with “Ready To Run” and “Streetfighter”, the band is already playing at full steam. What strikes me most though is, that singer Guido is gasping for breath so much after each song. He gives everything and convinced me with his strong voice so much, that’s for sure. “It’s Alright” is on next and with “Mountain Queen” the band performs a great song, that has some nice mood changes. Their traditional hard rock sound pleases many visitors and also the band is having a great time on stage. They continue with “Madman” and “Only Lies”. It’s good to see that a band like that has survived. They may have been away for a while and they may have had some setbacks, but they still have the urge to play live and the audience likes what they are doing. With “Silent Whisper”, “2001” and “Overheated”, the RED DRAGON completes their set of today. They may not have reached a large audience, but everyone ate out of their hands today and this sure looks good on your CV. After the show, the band members take some time to pose for a picture with their fans and then the stage is being cleared for the first NWOBHM act of today: JAGUAR.

Never a dull moment with these guys from Bristol and I’ve never seen a bad show by these English veterans. Throughout the years, they’ve become close friends and it’s getting quite crowded in front of the stage, when the band is doing their soundcheck. Jamie shows MARTYR guitarist Rick his new tattoo and without hesitation, he pulls down his pants. Those things might happen, when you invite JAGUAR at your party. Everything is laid back and cool, until the first notes of “Out Of Luck” leave the amps. The Little Devil turns into a mess in a couple of seconds and soon you’ll know that this is the shit where the people have been waiting for. “New Tricks” is a newer (trick) song, but soon after that, we get back to that magic album “Master Game” with “Battlecry”, “The Fox” and “Master Game”. Jamie is unable to play with his jumping stick today, because otherwise he would have smashed his head against the ceiling. Now he’s concentrating on destroying the place with his heavy vocal sounds and funny jokes. “Warts & All” is also a new track and it has got the same feeling that the other songs have on me. It’s definitely the most powerful and energetic NWOBHM you can get and I simply can’t wait to lay my hands on this new silver disc. The new tracks, they cranked out tonight, predict a whole lot of good stuff. “Prisoner” and “Run For Your Life” continue tonight’s set and although the space is limited, Jamie knows to handle it very well. As long as Garry is having his own square foot it’s fine, but even that is a bit too much maybe on this small stage. Garry takes whatever he needs and is very focused on what he’s doing, as always. The solos are truly amazing and with “Ain’t No Fantasy” we are treated to another classic tune. The next new track is called “3 Minute Song” and once again it sounds unmistakable like another classic JAGUAR song in the making. “Raw Deal” receives a JAGUAR make over, including the GLORIA GAYNOR intro of “I Will Survive”, which hardly will be recognized the way JAGUAR plays it here. A short snippet of RAM JAM’s “Black Betty” is being introduced here as well. “War Machine” takes us back to the very early days of JAGUAR and from there on the mess is complete, because it’s time for the crowd’s highlights. The JAGUAR jukebox has started and the audience eats everything starting with “Backstreet Woman”, the first single they released in 1981. Then a very special track for the fans in Holland is on next, namely “Dutch Connection”. If the roof was lifted or not, I’m not too sure, but it was definitely during that song. Otherwise it must have been during “Axe Crazy”, a song which I heard shouting out loud many times, when the band announced a new song to play. Just to show my sympathy for this great band, for a moment I tried to move my legs, as a token of my appreciation. Limited space forced me to stand still and move my head up and down every now and then. I’m afraid, that was all the moving I could do during the whole show. In my head, the adrenaline was working overtime instead. When the crazy axe was buried, one more old friend came around the corner and that was the short and energetic “Stormchild” from the “Heavy Metal Heroes” sampler. And then this magical moment came, that I was being able to raise my fist in the air during the ‘shouting out’ to the lyrics of “Stormchild”. It felt like being in rock and roll heaven for a moment. The show was over in no time and finally we could have a short chat with the Jaguars. Not too long, because they had to make room for the other rock lions from England, the TYGERS OF PAN TANG. Obviously, we’re dealing with a whole (NWOBHM) zoo of all these wild cats here tonight (lol). Also, I could finally get rid of my chocolate letters, that I got from the Dutch Sinterklaas, which would be very useful on their way to Belgium tomorrow, I guess.

TYGERS OF PAN TANG has also been one of my favorite NWOBHM bands. Their very recognizable sound remained and stood the test of time pretty easily. I noticed, that Robb Weir was unpleasantly surprised by the lack of space on stage, but the enthusiasm of the hungry crowd would soon change his feelings. The soundcheck is over and done, but then the band has lost track of their drummer. Luckily, he’s only taking a leak and when he has found his way towards the stage through the mass of wild rockers, it’s finally PARTY TIME!!!!! The ‘wild catz’ open tonight’s show with “Keeping Me Alive”. Maybe it would have been better to open with an old classic, but hey the night is still young and anything can happen from now on. “Love Don’t Stay” is on next and when “Gangland” starts off, we’re in for another real old school headbanger from the NWOBHM classic album “Spellbound”. “She” is taken from the new “Ambush” album, which is promoted very well tonight with four tracks. I like the album a lot, but I must admit that I really came to hear the old school TYGERS stuff. However, when they continue with “Insanity” / “Raised On Rock”, I already got two of my favorites served back to back. “Mr. Indispensable”, “Paris By Air”, “Take It” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll Man” are being done as a medley and this way they know to please even more fans. It’ll be much easier to push more songs into your set this way. “The Story So Far” is another classic from the early days. The crowd absorbs every single second of this amazing gig. “Dark Rider” is the introduction of the TYGERS jukebox moment. The band is working towards the boiling point starting with the very first single they ever recorded, the magnificent “Don’t Touch Me”. The five tygers are in their element right now and another short medley arrives, in which Suzie is the main focus. First we hear “Hey Suzie” from the new “Ambush” album, which is followed by “Suzie Smiled” from the “Wild Cat” album. To me, that album is still the very best they’ve ever recorded. “Hellbound” reminds me of the days, when this band played at the famous Parkpop festival in The Hague in 1981 with BARRELHOUSE and GRUPPO SPORTIVO. “Hellbound” was one of the loudest songs played there that year. I still remember that friends of mine from The Hague told me, that they had a bad radio connection, because of the many decibels circulated by Robb and his mates. And although the atmosphere that JAGUAR created here a couple of minutes ago, can’t be beaten, the TYGERS close their amazing gig with “Euthanasia” and “Love Potion No. 9”. It’s far past eleven, when they pull the plug and these wild animals have to get back to their cages. It’s a sweaty closure of an amazing day here at the Little Devil. Time to hang out for a couple of moments with some friends we haven’t seen in ages. Our thanks especially go out to Mario (finally, we made it, mate), the six amazing bands, that came to rock and roll and everybody in general at the Little Devil (you know who you are). I think, we will have to look very closely for the line-up of the next edition of Mario’s Metal Meeting, because he sure knows how to create a crazy metal party!

*Written by: Toine van Poorten/December 2013
*Photos by: Rita van Poorten/

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