It has been awhile, since we saw BURNING for the very first time. They impressed me a lot, so I was very pleased that they would support PICTURE in Bel Air. The band is finally getting established in Holland, while PICTURE is ruling the Dutch metal scene for many decades already. Bel Air is one of the nicest places in the south of our country. It is situated in my hometown Breda. They like their rock hard and loud and every now and then, you can see some very interesting names appearing on the bill. PRAYING MANTIS, MARK BOALS, VINNY APPICE, HIGHWAY CHILE and VANDALE have been playing there, but also the more unknown names, tribute bands and local rock groups find their way to this small yet very cozy venue.
Tonight BURNING (from the very Northern part of our country) and PICTURE will rock this place to the ground. Some of these shows are for free, but their policy is full = full, so be there on time or cry later. Anyway, we arrived early and decided to drink some coffee at the bar. Our good friend Jeffrey Vergeer was already in and we also noticed a few other familiar faces. Before the first show starts, we have got some time to socialize with Hugo Koch, vocalist of BURNING, and also Ronald van Prooijen and Rien Vreugdenhil of PICTURE are off again. Rien is telling us the insight story behind the new song "Stroke" and his personal experiences. It really gives you the shivers. Thank you for sharing it, Rien. The story of Ronald was pretty amusing. He was searching for Café / live podium Bel Air and saw a lot of people standing outside, so he thought that this was the place where he would be playing tonight. Then someone asked him if he was ready to be locked up tonight.....LOL!! Obviously, these people were waiting to be locked up at the escape room, which is next to Bel Air. You should have seen the funny expression on his face, when telling us about it. Anyway, never a dull moment and we're always in for a good laugh!
BURNING will kick off this evening. The band is going to promote their new four track EP tonight and of course the debut full-length album will not be left out either. I guess that everybody has some sweet dreams of "Nightmares". Their music is a good mix of classic metal and NWOBHM and to my surprise they start off with three songs in one. The first punch is always the best and the three chapters of "Anthem For The Lost Souls" is the opener of tonight. "The Sixth Day", "New Vision" and "Domination" are in fact three episodes of one long anthem and obviously BURNING is showing their muscles right from the start. "Trials Of 1613" belongs to my own personal favorites and I must say that the band is in a fantastic mood, which reflects to the audience, who get very excited about the metal of BURNING as well. Hugo is the conductor, but his band sounds really amazing and they know to put down a great solid show. "Razors And Reasons" and "Piece Of Mind" follows next and the venue is getting fuller and fuller. The band is in great shape and when "Something Lurking In The Dark" starts, the band has arrived at my second personal favorite BURNING song. The horror related elements give the song that special twist, which makes it outstanding from any regular metal track. We had hoped for a special appearance of the green haired monster that got a leading role in the video clip, but I guess he had other plans tonight. What exactly these plans were remains unknown. The next song is called "No Remorse", which is another headbanger. At the end of the show, the new four track EP has been played from back to forth. They start off with "Paul", followed by "On The Run", "Angel Of The Universe" and last but not least "Burried". The reactions are very positive and prove is given at the merchandise stand, where the EP sells another few copies tonight. Good for them. BURNING played another great show and I can only compliment the band with their solid heavy metal sound. Hugo is a great front man and the band members are a good solid team, which definitely does the trick. It's a shame they didn't bring any horror-related stage props along, but I guess Bel Air is too small for that. Both thumbs up for BURNING.
PICTURE has never let me down and I'm sure they won't tonight. The band is always very eager to rock and Breda will be the victim of their well-oiled machine. They always give a full two hundred percent and already from the opener "You're All Alone", I see a lot of old school rockers nodding at each other. Yes, this band may have grown a bit older and balder or even more grey haired but they still know to deliver the goods, there is no doubt about it. A lot of familiar faces showed up tonight, because Bel Air is the place to attend a solid metal show like this. With the fast "Get Back Or You Fall" the band even takes back to their first album, but they will even dig a little further in their bag of surprises tonight. The night has just begun, when vocalist Ronald van Prooijen receives a "Message From Hell" from that remarkable album with Sammy Schmoulik Avigal on vocals. Ronald can handle it very well, don't you worry. For sure, he is one of the best hard rock vocalists in our small country. He is the "Nighthunter" and the Bel Air crowd is his prey tonight. The bag of surprises reopens with "Little Annie", an old school song, which never made it on any record, but it will be on the new PICTURE album. It also gets a prominent place in their recent live shows, just like it did in the very early eighties. "No, No, No" must be one of the heaviest and fastest PICTURE songs ever and they raised the roof in Bel Air with that one. In earlier reviews, I already mentioned the name of Jeffrey Vergeer, a young guy, a good singer and a huge PICTURE fan (well, aren't we all??!!). Well, also tonight you can find Jeffrey in the front ranks supporting the band. This time, he sang "Night Tiger" with Ronald. What a great honor and he did a marvelous job here. It was not the first time that he has been invited on stage and but I'm sure it won't be the last one either. This was his well-deserved five minutes of fame in Breda. Next, I would like to spend some words to the man, who invented these gorgeous PICTURE riffs. Guitarist Jan Bechtum, who has been very much involved since the beginning, is also the man who came up with all those killer riffs, making these PICTURE songs so recognizable. I think that you can call the intro riffs of "Eternal Dark" legendary, because of that. Even a band like HAMMERFALL, who covered this song and released it as a single, knew that. Obviously, Jan still knows how to play his magic tricks, licks and riffs. Nowadays, he shares the guitar parts with guitarist Appie de Gelder, who also impresses big time. Appie and Ronald played together in the band EXIST. Wow, I really love these magic gloves Ronald is wearing tonight! They light up in the dark, which is quite a crazy gimmick. Jan is introducing the crowd to "Live By The Sword" from the "Old Dogs, New Tricks" days, which is a slow banger and a great addition to the newer PICTURE songs, which fits in quite nicely between all these golden oldies. "Heavy Metal Ears", the title track of the second album, may not be missed here of course. I would categorize it as one of the classic PICTURE songs for that matter. Of course, same goes for the title track of the third album "Diamond Dreamer". "Line Of Life" however is a brand new song. The band played it for the first time in Drachten last year and it will also be on the new album. It's a killer track in the best PICTURE tradition. I really can't wait to hear it! And then we have almost arrived at the end of this gig. It's time for the final encores of tonight, starting with an incredible heavy version of "Unemployed", which has the high pull outs of Ronald. The temperature is rising fast in the very cozy Bel Air and one member of PICTURE will prove that he is using his head, while playing in this marvelous band. That one member is drummer Bakkie (his nickname) or Laurens Bakker, as you please. He performs his incredible drum solo at the end of this song. While some drummers, like John Bonham or Tommy Aldridge use their hands or fists, Bakkie likes to use his head. This fictitious 'Animal of The Muppet Show' happens to be one of the cruelest drummers in the world. While Dave Lombardo is often named as the best drummer in the world, next to Neil Peart, this exceeds it all. The man is a killer and if it was up to him, he would have smashed his whole drum kit into small pieces. Anyway, luckily they are able to stop him on time by simply removing his Duracell batteries, before stranger things would happen (LOL). 'Have the gutz to go nutz' is his motto. Well, Bakkie has both and he proved that tonight. I hear a lot of positive feedback all around me and for many old school fans, it feels like time stood still. Their prayers have been heard, when the band continues with "Bombers". A PICTURE gig just wouldn't be the same without it. It’s this song that catapulted them directly to the premier league of the heavy metal scene in the Netherlands. Of course there are a lot of other great Dutch bands that came very close to the fame of PICTURE. Think of bands like MARTYR, BODINE, VENGEANCE, VANDENBERG, HIGHWAY CHILE, SLEEZE BEEZ, VANDALE and dozens of local underground heroes, but they never could reach the status that PICTURE achieved in Dutch metal. The cool video, the bombs, the fast rhythm, the guitar solos, it's all there and the fans just love it. This is also the moment that Rien takes the opportunity to step off the stage and become one with the audience for his incredible bass solo. He completes the song in the pit between all the fans and Bel Air is now steaming hot. The finale is for "Lady Lightning", where Ronald introduces the band and gives the guitar players a chance to be in the spotlight. Their improvisation part shows some resemblance to the good old days of RAINBOW and DEEP PURPLE and just in case you missed it, Jan was playing the guitar on his neck and not in front of him. Can you hear the difference?? I certainly can't. This has been a very nice closure of an amazing evening that finally brought PICTURE to Breda. "You Can Go" is the final encore of tonight, taken from the first PICTURE album. The band gives us their blessing to go, but not before the last notes have faded away into the dark night. PICTURE will leave to Chile and Brazil very soon to play some shows, as the band is very huge over there. Holland can be proud of these five musketeers of Dutch heavy metal. We celebrated 40 years of Heavy Metal Ears tonight and I hope there will be a lot more in the near future. Thanks for a wonderful evening BURNING and PICTURE and see you next time. \m/