PICTURE- Try-out show, Vlaardingen, November 26, 2016

We always have a great time, when going to a PICTURE show. They give a full hundred percent and never let their fans down. Their very last show in Deest, NL with Pete Lovell meant the end of this era. Things would be different from now on. Pete would continue his career with LOVELL’S BLADE and he would take the two lead guitarists, Andre Wullems and Mike Fergusson, with him. That’s the sad news for some of the fans. The good news however is, that PICTURE will go on in the original line-up with a second guitarist and in 2017, they will be touring. For the die-hard PICTURE fans, this is a dream come true after so many years. Guitarist Jan Bechtum has always kept the real PICTURE sound hidden in his box, stuffed with pure golden riffs. Add to that the explosive drum sound of Bakkie, the stunning, heraldic and bulldozer bass sound of Rien and the golden high-pitched vocals of Ronald and you have a match made in heaven. Finally, add former ROSLYN guitarist Appie de Gelder to this combo and you are ready to rule the world again. Which other metal band from Holland can say, that they supported APRIL WINE, SAXON and uncle TED NUGENT? Which other band from Holland has been on the bill of Sweden Rock twice? Which band has one of their songs covered by legendary heavy metal band HAMMERFALL from Sweden? Which Dutch band belongs to the top five heavy metal bands in South America, next to KISS and BLACK SABBATH? Yes, you metal heads I guess, you’re right and the answer to all these questions would be the one and only PICTURE!

Well, so far my introduction. Why would I write such an extensive report of this try-out show of PICTURE in the Music Factory in Vlaardingen? I’ll tell you why. The last gig we attended of PICTURE was at the always cozy Deest, a small town situated between Tiel and Nijmegen. There, we got an invitation to attend a ‘secret’ gig in Vlaardingen of the reformed line-up. I couldn’t believe my heavy metal ears. We would receive an email with the exact destination and time and we would be one of the happy few to be there. Am I dreaming? No, no, no, I am not a diamond dreamer, this is for real.

Vlaardingen would be the destination and after a short puzzle to find the exact entrance of the venue, we were inside the Music Factory Jeanet, as it’s officially called. We were really excited, because we have so many good memories about the early days of PICTURE. Guitarist Jan Bechtum has always been one of my heroes, being one of the first real axe attack heroes in the Dutch heavy metal scene. No wonder, they called him the Dutch Ritchie Blackmore. This man has got golden fingers, in my opinion. Anyway, while driving to Vlaardingen lots of great memories came back of some of their shows I attended in the early 1980’s, like Metal Cattle Rock in Ulicoten or as support act for the bands I mentioned in the introduction or even touring with Dutch rockers VANDALE. Those were the days. The huge transparent sticker, that came as a promo item for the album “Heavy Metal Ears” is hanging in our living room now and it has been signed by the four original members. Also, I have great memories about the time that this very album was presented on Dutch national radio at ‘Alfred Lagarde’s Betonuur’. Ah, good old Alfred Lagarde! May God rest his soul! Shivers are running down my spine, when I think back of those good old days. In the meantime, the band members are thirty-five years older now and so is yours truly. However, a good love never dies and my love for PICTURE and heavy metal will never die and simply is meant to be. My dad (although he didn’t like heavy metal at all!) gave me the love for heavy metal in my DNA and I’m so thankful for that.

Meeting up with the guys, shortly before the show, was really amazing. We’ve met Rien and Bakkie several times at more recent PICTURE shows, but meeting up with Jan and Ronald was again something special to me. It’s then, that I realized that there would be something very special happening tonight. PICTURE has always sounded great on stage, but without the riffs of Jan, it was never quite the same. I’ve settled myself in the first rows, so I have a good view all over the stage. The most die-hard PICTURE fan of them all, Wanda, is getting a throne in front of the stage, so she can watch the guys from the best seat in the house. Lights, camera, action, it’s eight o’ clock and the show is about to start. The atmosphere is good and I guess that everybody is ready for some old school true heavy metal.
And that’s exactly what we’re going to get. Already from the first riffs of “You’re All Alone”, it’s like time has stood still. The faces may look a bit older and some grey hair may be appearing, but that recognizable sound will never change. PICTURE is back and you’d better believe it! They will kick the shit out of your freaking ass, brothers and sisters! Ronald looks cool in his long leather coat and he sings with a headset on, so he has his hands free for some special moves and expressions. Some things do change, the technique has moved forward and PICTURE likes to jump on that bandwagon, which is good. The first surprise of the evening appears already after that first song, when the band announces “Get Back Or You Fall”. Say what? That’s from thirty-seven years ago and seldom played live before. Although I have a few live tapes from the very early days on which they play it, but hearing it in 2016 is definitely a rarity. And I still remember the lyrics, Goddammit. “The Hangman” with Ronald playing a victim hanging on the gallows pole during his singing, is on next. It’s good to hear that the focus will be on the first three albums. Ronald is not afraid to step into Shmoulik’s shoes, who has always been seen as a highly respected singer in PICTURE and later on in HORIZON, THE RODS, JACK STARR’S GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME and AVIGAL of course. “Nighthunter” is another song that we don’t get to hear that much, which is very cool, because throughout the years the set list of PICTURE has become a little bit predictable at times. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, because they have so many great songs to choose from, but there weren’t too many surprises in there anymore. The songs we hear tonight though are mostly songs that we haven’t heard that much over the last few years. It keeps the fans focused and the band sounds very fresh. Of course there are songs that may not be missed in a PICTURE set and “Message From Hell”, which is on next, is one of them. This is definitely another one of my favorites. It also shows that these guys are still willing to rock hard and there’s no time to take a breath. The headset of Ronald isn’t really working properly and a regular microphone will do the trick somewhere in the middle of the show. New techniques and old school metal doesn’t seem to match one another, despite that it looked cool, in my opinion. “Nighttiger” continues, which is another song from the good old days that we don’t hear too much. One of the highlights of all highlights tonight however is “No, No, No”. The moment, that I heard this song with Alfred Lagarde, my mind was completely gone and it still is one of my favorites. It’s short, it’s ultra-heavy and it makes a firm statement. What a great surprise to hear this tonight, thanks guys! Another surprise is next, because I would never have guessed that “Old Dogs New Tricks” would be on the list tonight. After hearing the loud and wild barking of a dog through the speakers as an intro tape, my thoughts immediately go out to that track, that they recorded on the CD with the same title from 2009, when Rob van Enkhuizen was still in the band as the second guitar player. Nowadays, he is playing in a CATS tribute band, called THE CATS AGLOW, for those of you who are interested. When Rob and Jan left PICTURE, they continued together as DIAMOND DREAMER for a while, to get the story complete. This song fits very well in the set and Jan moves to the front of the stage to perform a guitar solo. Next up, they continue with another song from that same album “Old Dogs New Tricks” and one of my personal favorites, namely “Live By The Sword”. The next three songs PICTURE can’t do without, namely “Heavy Metal Ears”, the title track of the second album, “Eternal Dark”, the title track of the fourth album and “Diamond Dreamer” the title track of the third album. I don’t know, if it’s a coincidence, that they are playing these three songs in a row, but at least it’s very well chosen. “Heavy Metal Ears” is a real must, because why do you have heavy metal ears on your head? “Eternal Dark” has been the only song from the fourth album, that has Pete Lovell on vocals and Henry van Manen on guitar (who remembers him? Please raise your hands…). He was the tandem mate of former SLEEZE BEEZ guitarist Chris van Jaarsveld. The last three songs are simply awesome beyond belief. First up is “Unemployed” and do I need to say more here? It rips the last flesh of your bare bones. Now you’re not only jobless, but also fleshless. How’s that for a change?! What a killer song and a deep bow for songs like that. Well, what more can I say about “Bombers”? This is the PICTURE song of all songs. For many, it’s also the first song they ever heard from this band. It’s been accompanied (in my imagination) with a video clip with live footage of a show at De Bonkelaar in Sliedrecht from way back. The audience consists of old people applauding, which looks kind of funny, but I’ll never forget these details. The song was taken from the “Hard Rock Live” double album in a stunning live version, next to “You Can Go”. The intro needs some warming up from Jan. He starts off real slow, like he doesn’t remember and he’s trying to get it right. From there on, it goes faster and faster and then he has got the right pace. “Bombers” over Vlaardingen and PICTURE lifts the roof for a second. Hide in your shelters, while you can. This is going to be an all destroying big bang. Tsunami warnings go out over the radio and it’s a party from now on and people, who weren’t there, can start picking out their hair one by one with a pincer. In the middle of the song, Rien gets off the stage to find himself a place next to Mark Oosterwijk and he’s playing his world famous short bass part. He will be in the audience for the remainder of this song, side by side with his long term fans. That’s what dedication is all about. He almost trips over the small step but everything goes well, lucky enough. Another intro tape fills up the venue. It’s getting warm, not only from excitement but also because of the heater that is on constantly, flushing warm air in the back of my neck. The sound of thunder and lightning are starting set closure “Lady Lightning”. It’s time to sing along one more time. “I don’t wanna die”!!! No, I guess that the fun has just started right here on this memorable evening. The song is build out at the end with a longer instrumental part, in which the band also shows their talent for improvisation. These guys still know to impress me, even after so many times, it was a real treat hearing them this way, which is the only and right way. With all respect to other line-ups of PICTURE, don’t get me wrong here. What a great night and what a shame it’s over so quickly. This could have going on and on for another hour or something, as far as I’m concerned. Okay, I would have shouted for “Rock & Roll / Under Your Spell”, “He’s A Player” or “Rocking In Your Brains”, but hey you can’t have it all and this was fantasticoutrageousawesomesuperunbelievable already. Hey, I think I just invented a new word. That’s how inspiring these guys are to me. When the heroes leave the arena, they leave the fans staring at an empty stage. Did we just see one of the most spectacular live shows of the year or was this just a dream and am I asleep at my desk at my work space? Pinch my arm, poke me in the eye, wake me up right now, please. No, this has been for real and when the band is getting back on stage for one more song, I’m in rock and roll heaven. So, what’s their treat? “You Can Go” is a nice hint to say ‘that’s all for now folks, the exit is on your left, thanks for coming and goodnight’. Of course that’s not the message (from hell) behind this set closer. It’s just another song, that long term fans would like to hear. Jan is going completely out of his mind now and he’s playing his guitar behind his head. It’s a madhouse and at the exit people are already handing out the first straightjackets for those who didn’t survive this explosion of pure metal mayhem. We survived it though and a get together with other fans is all that’s left, when the last notes of tonight have faded away. Many nice old stories are being told and hundreds of memories are being shared, until the first guests are leaving. After about half an hour we decide to leave the hall, too. On our way to the exit, we notice, that they are selling a few left over t-shirts from the South American tour with the “Diamond Dreamer” logo on it. This is a nice collector’s item, that is the cherry on the cake for us tonight. After a short chat with Appie, whom I didn’t have the chance to talk to until now, we’re off. He was kind of flabbergasted with all the attention, but I know for sure that he has become part of a great team, that is ready to take on the world. Thank you very much Appie, Bakkie, Rien, Ronald and Jan (in random order) for a wonderful night. This was a once in a lifetime experience and we are thankful and ever so proud to have been invited for this exclusive gig. For all the die hard fans, I’d like to close this review with a Dutch phrase: “Laten we hard zijn voor elkaar!”.

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

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