* April 07, 2012 *

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Bruinsma, Stadskanaal, The Netherlands

Bruinsma is situated just outside the cozy shopping center of Stadskanaal, just about a twenty minute walk away from our bed and breakfast Zwijnestein, where we’re staying among the potbelly pigs, goats, chicken and sheep. The life of the animals on the farm will be described in another article, fact is that we came to Stadskanaal to enjoy the Very ‘Eavy festival. All the bands are well worth checking out and when arriving at the hall, our backstage passes and photo pass are already waiting to be picked up. The first positive remarks as far as we are concerned and this is only the beginning.

Because this festival started on time, we have missed half the set of Bozzy and his metal companions of GLORIA VICTIS. We arrive, when ‘The Boss’ starts with their version of the classic “Angel Witch” song. I think, that this was ‘meant to be’ as they sometimes say. There’s nothing wrong with the GLORIA VICTIS version, which stands proud and loud. The song thereafter sounds at least as good. I believe, it’s called “Mary Bell” and it shows that the band is capable of writing some good songs of their own. It sounds so much better than the average straight forward metal, that you sometimes hear. The bass player reminded me of the old school SAXON with its pumping iron sound. Judging the band after seeing only four songs is not really fair, but they have indeed grown immensely since the last time that we saw them and that’s one thing I know for sure!

WILD hails from Spain and they play at this festival in Stadskanaal and the day after at the festival in Uithoorn (Harder Than Heavy 5). One thing is for sure, the audience can’t get enough of these Spanish metal heads. This has got mainly to do with the enthusiasm, that they play their set tonight. The lyrics are mainly sung in their native tongue Spanish and especially the JUDAS PRIEST cover “Metal Gods” is very well received and the crowd goes really wild. Well done, guys!

PARRIS are a Dutch THIN LIZZY tribute band, that already gained a lot of success in our low lands. Master bassist Barend Courbois couldn’t make it this evening, because he’s on tour with German metal heads BLIND GUARDIAN. This won’t hold the band back from a successful start with “Jailbreak”, in which the crowd already participates by singing along to this LIZZY classic. THIN LIZZY – either you like the band or you don’t and think they are an old fashioned rock band for dull and grey rock fans. I’d like to gather myself amongst the first group of people. I think, that they stand lonely at the top and their music is a treat to your ears and not many bands can compete with this level of high quality classic rock music. So I enjoyed every song, that’s played tonight and sing along with it until the very last note has faded away into the dark night. There are no real surprises tonight and the set is comprised of well-known songs like “Waiting For An Alibi’, “Cold Sweat”, “Rosalie” (by the way, this was original a song by BOB SEGER & THE SILVER BULLET BAND!), “Massacre”, “Suicide”, “Got To Give It Up”, “Emerald”, “Still In Love With You” (dedicated to Melanie and Martjo), “Cowboy Song”, “The Boys Are Back In Town” and last but not least “The Rocker”. I really liked their show a lot. The band lets their music do the talking, which is great to see. Both thumbs up for PARRIS!

A lot of people came to witness the glorious come back of Martjo and VORTEX. After a conversation, that I had with Martjo earlier that night, it becomes quite obvious that this would be the night on which the band would decide whether to continue with VORTEX or to pull the plug. It would be all up to this gig. Will it be both thumbs up for the future or will this possibly be one of the very last shows of VORTEX?? But Martjo smiled in a very positive way and said, that he would do everything in his power to continue with the band. Question remains, if his body is ready for this heavy task or not. It all will be decided this very evening. Tichelaar has put on his horror make-up masque, the metal bat is hung up on the wall, the fire crackers are checked by roadie Eggo, Vortex is about to kick ass tonight in Stadskanaal. For sure, this is gonna be a special night and the band will show everybody that they are back. “Gotta Get Away” and “Hammer Of The North” prove, that the band is in excellent shape. Followed by “The Curse”, “The Beauty & The Teeth” and “Attracted To Fire”, which shows a very hungry band, destined to give two hundred percent tonight. “Welcome To Metalland” was already a request from the people in the audience, but it can be categorized as a real crowd’s favorite as well. Especially after hearing, that they take up in the chorus real loud. And the singing becomes even louder, when the band continues with a song, that is tied to the name VORTEX for ever and ever; “Opa Heeft Aids”….. eh, I mean “Open The Gates” of course. “Rolling To The War” is a nice bridge to another classic in the making, namely the title track of the new album “Drink Bat Blood”. This song simply grabs your attention right away and shows, that VORTEX are the masters of playing catchy songs, that cling to your mind very easily and are easy to sing along to. During “With Witches Help”, the band pulls out all the stops. Syria is good with bombs and fire crackers, but Assad would definitely shit his pants, when seeing Martjo coming on stage all dressed up in his witches suit, including fire crackers. “Livin’ By The Day” closes the regular set and the audience has seen a band at work, that could only dream of a comeback like that. I’d hoped, no, let me rephrase this, I have been dreaming, that VORTEX would close their set just one more time with the BODINE cover “Shout”. Most dreams never come true, but if you shit in your bed, it’s still there the next morning and you’ll be lying in your own dirt. And right now I’m almost wetting my pants, because as an encore I hear the first riffs of the well-known BODINE cover. Yep, that’s what you get, when you’re getting older, it’s called incontinence. The highlight of tonight has just passed by and the headliners still have to play! What a night!!

JAGUAR has never turned me down with their live shows. Not in 1982, when they still had Paul Merrel as their frontman at the Cattle Trade in Ulicoten or the Siësta in Hengelo. And not in 2012 either, when playing in Stadskanaal. As long as Garry Pepperd plays guitar, everything will be alright. Singer Jamie doesn’t need any special conditions to entertain the crowd. When he walks in the hall, he is like the invisible man, nobody recognizes him and I think, he’s fine with that. But when you give him a microphone and a jump stick, he transforms into an ideal, ADHD sensitive frontman, who’s able to entertain every crowd. “Run Ragged” is, being the opening song, the only song that you can call a newer song. But even this song is about ten years old already. The set of tonight leaves nothing to be desired with songs like “Out Of Luck”, “Battle Cry” and “Master Game”. During “The Fox”, Jamie challenges guitar player Garry Pepperd by wearing a shirt with big letters spelling the word ‘FOX’. He adds to this statement, that he was not allowed by Mr. Pepperd to wear the hat, that matches the shirt. Garry Pepperd shakes his head a few times and continues tuning his guitar like nothing has happened. Just let him talk, must have been his reaction. Before you know it, Jamie leaves the stage during this particular song and stares at the band from the audience. He finds himself a nice hat from someone in the first ranks and continues the song with his new trophy. He is nuts, really nuts, but he has the guts to be completely nuts. The set continues with “Prisoner”, “War Machine”, “Raw Deal”, “Stormchild” and “Backstreet Woman”. “Dutch Connection” may not be missed as well of course. But then something happens, that nobody will really understand. When JAGUAR wants to start their last song “Axe Crazy”, this is abruptly stopped by the organisation: they pull out the plug and tell the band that they have to stop. WHAT THE F*CK???!!!! Yep, this really ruined everyone’s party. I have a simple suggestion for them: Never pull out the plug, when a show is reaching its highlight! No matter how tight your time schedule is. You can cut down some other bands instead, but NEVER do this to one of the headliners, who are about to play their very last song. A very sad and bad decision and the biggest victim, next to the crowd, is JAGUAR, who leave the hall through the side entrance with their tail between their legs. Encores like “Run For Your Life” and “Ain’t No Fantasy” are unfortunately cancelled. Hopefully, at the ‘Meesterlijk Metaal’ festival in June, they can take revenge, when they playing in Almere with MARTYR. Anyway, JAGUAR was very pleased with the Eastern eggs, that we brought along for them, but I think that they were a bit disappointed with their short set. Maybe better luck next time, I hope.

TRANCE-MISSION are the headliners, that I was very much looking forward to see after all those years. Before the name change, they were known as TRANCE, but after their third album “Victory”, these gents definitely went on a strange mission. A mission, that went into a very different direction, but that’s another story. In the past I’ve seen countless shows of TRANCE at De Leeuwerik in Galder and the Cattle Trade in Ulicoten, halls that could hold a whole lot of people, as you can see. In those days I really loved what this band was doing and their first two albums “Break Out” and “Power Infusion” have turned grey and you can almost look right through the records, because of the many times that I’ve listened to it. Kim warned me already, for she had heard Lothar Anthoni sing during the soundcheck rehearsals that afternoon and she thought that his voice sounded rather out of tune. “Don’t be afraid Kim, I think that everything will be fine, when they are playing here tonight”, was my answer. You have to give them a fair chance…. But Kim was right I’m afraid. Songs like “Break Out”, “Heavy Metal Queen”, “Shock Power”, “Break The Chains”, “Glasshouse”, “For Your Love” and “Speed, Leather & Danger” sound like real classic songs on the album in the studio. But in a live situation, nothing remains of those magical moments. Lothar sings like a harsh crow and doesn’t have any volume left in his voice. And to me, he looked like he had been experimenting with some drugs as well. No matter what kind of mushrooms he had been using, it really didn’t give him the power, it was supposed to do. What a pity! Yes indeed, it’s a god damn shame. When they start with a newer song, called “Jezus Is A Headbanger”, I feel tears in my eyes. Where did this band go wrong? Kim leaves the hall after three songs already. She knows, that she hasn’t said too much, when I leave the hall after about three quarter of their set. I am very disappointed, that’s for sure. Maybe they have played my personal favorite song “Loser” later on, but I’ve missed this autobiographical song and Rita and I decided to take a walk to the potbelly pigs and goats. TRANCE-MISSION aren’t worth being the headliners of this festival, no matter how hard they try and how hard they work to please the audience. Cutting off JAGUAR’s set was the organization’s only big mistake though. I only have very positive remarks for Hugo Koch and his crew, who presented a very nice festival in the Northern part of our country. Hopefully, see you all again next year? The second part of this festival will be taking place tomorrow (April 8) in Uithoorn and the bands on the bills are GLORIA VICTIS, WILD, AVENGER and JURASSIC PARK.

*Written by: Toine van Poorten/April 2012
*Photos by: Rita van Poorten/

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