* April 22 & 23, 2016 *

Friday, April 22, 2016

Fox Stadskanaal, Stadskanaal, The Netherlands

As the bill is taking shape, I’m getting more and more excited. THE RODS and ULI JON ROTH are both amazing acts and with the input of NWOBHM bands TYTAN and SOLDIER, we have found ourselves another good reason to go to the cozy city of Stadskanaal. Besides that, Hugo is probably one of the very few people, who is able to organize an interesting festival without putting countless small black and death metal bands on the bill. The names have a high cult level and some of the names are extremely rare to be seen live on stage in Europe (like CETI and DAMIEN THORNE). De Spont has been the perfect location for this festival, but this weekend we are going to move to Fox Nightlife. Our first destiny however is our b&b in Jipsinghuizen. On our way there, we take a short break at a gas station and we bump into Laurens (Bakkie) and Rien from PICTURE, who are just leaving the parking lot with their van. Finally, we arrive at our b&b and very soon our good friends Eddy and Christine from Belgium arrive as well.

The weather is fine, we’re in a good mood, so off we go. We search for the Fox Nightlife, which is very easy to find. The parking lot is at the back of the hall and only a two minute walk away. Another five minutes later we find ourselves a nice place to eat with good food. The evening is still young and the first band starts at 18:30. The mix grill tastes excellent, the company we’re in is fine and the organization is in hands of Hugo and Ellen Koch and their crew. Very ‘Eavy, we are ready to rock Stadskanaal! Friday evening has got four bands on the bill and a new location to explore. There is no real queue, when entering the hall. The wristbands are handed out and we’re welcomed very friendly by Ellen Koch herself. Early birds can pick up a free CD with some real good metal music on it and I’m also collecting my BURNING stuff, which we ordered in advance. You must know, that Hugo’s band BURNING has just released a new album on vinyl and CD. And one copy of each must be added to our collection right away. After that, it’s time for some music, don’t you think so?!

JERKBAIT is the opener this evening, but first we check out the new location. We’re at a nightclub, a discotheque, with purple lights and not much ambience. But a good atmosphere must be created, so that’s not a big deal. Opposite the hall, where the bands will play, is a saloon-like room, where you can sit at the bar or have a look at the little record fair, they have created. You can buy some merchandise here too or hang around with some friends, if the music isn’t interesting enough for you. But there’s plenty to enjoy on this warming up night. With four Dutch bands on the bill, you won’t hear me complaining! When JERKBAIT starts off, it’s still very quiet. Many people will only show up on the second day, because they still have to work on Friday, I guess. JERKBAIT plays an explosive set there. They only have got half an hour and kick off with “72 Days” and “Comin’ To Get Ya”. The band sounds powerful and with “Don’t Wanna Be A Fool”, the band slowly gets the holy fire burning. They give it a hundred percent, although the hall isn’t even half full. That’s the spirit. “We Like The Flames” continues and the young band is trying to fill up as many songs as possible in their set, because they want to impress the people tonight. Obviously, they are the winners of the Very ‘Eavy internet poll, where they received a place on the bill of the festival. “Midnight Story” and “Not This Time Too” continue and the guitar player decides to take a walk and play on the bar and barriers on the opposite side of the stage. What a crazy situation! These guys really know to make something special of their show. And if their music didn’t impress you, they sure do have the nerve to do something extraordinary there. “Z” is on next and the metal soaked “Gates Of Hell” rounds off this first band tonight. I may not be flabbergasted by the band musically, mainly because their mix of hardcore, punk rock and heavy metal is not really my cup of tea, but come on, the drummer of the band is only fifteen years old. These guys still have a whole future in front of them and they play everywhere they possibly can. They are hungry for rock and they have their own fanbase, that follows them around to the every gig. I predict a good future for these guys, if they stick together. And for this evening, I had a great time sitting them out, although I was sometimes a bit out of focus, because another familiar face showed up and another one and another one. So I put both thumbs up for JERKBAIT and hope to see you guys again soon. JERKBAIT consists of David Veen on guitar and vocals, Rick Kluin on bass, Stan Vos on guitar and Nanne Hatzman on drums. Keep rocking boys, make them crazy!!!

REBELSTAR is another cup of tea. There were times, when I saw them two or three times in a couple of weeks. Now it was some time ago, since I saw Serge and his rebels on stage. REBELSTAR kicks your ass, whereever you are. “Big, Bang, Boom” is a great opener, which will wake up everybody. The party has begun and REBELSTAR sounds like a “Burning Sensation”. They have a good sound, which is necessary, if you want to play a good fifty minute party. “Permanent Disaster” and “W.B.P.A.” continues the set, that is filled with party rock, which will appeal to rock and metal fans. Not too glamorous, not too metal, just high quality rock and roll. “Shelter Me” and “Love Leaves Scars” are on next and after that the more well-known party crackers start to come. They are burning the roof down with smoking versions of “Sick M.F.” and “Lick it Up”. Serge is Mr. Cool himself and the band is playing very well together. This is the highest Dutch standard, that is available when playing rock and roll, better believe me. “Look But Don’t Touch” and “Smoke She Said” are real crowd pleasers and with the AC/DC cover “Highway To Hell” the hall is getting steaming hot and there is nothing, that will escape from the hungry claws of these rebels from The Hague. And there are two knock out punches on the setlist of tonight’s show. There’s one for each eye. “Hell Yeah” is to let off steam and with “Another Showdown” the band says goodbye to Stadskanaal. What a steaming hot performance!

REBELSTAR is an excellent start up for the more heavy tones of DISTILLATOR, who are on next. But first we get in touch with the guys from DAMIEN THORNE, who have settled in the cozy saloon. The Chicago based band members are great much fun to hang out with and I can’t wait to see their show tomorrow. Actually, we have been socializing with the band such a long time that I almost forgot that there are more bands playing here tonight. Just in time to catch a few songs of DISTILLATOR. The band is a well-oiled machine and their star is rising faster than the speed of light. After playing this gig, they will tour with BLIKSEM and METAL CHURCH afterwards. Man, that’s some serious business. The music is a little bit loud on the ears. That’s the way we like it. For fifty minutes they bash and thrash, until your poor ears start to bleed. Although I’m not really familiar with their songs, I still recognized “Bloody Assault”, “Guerilla Insurgery”, the SLAYER cover “Black Magic” (horns in the air) and “Death Strip”. Yeah baby, that was a great performance. A big bow for DISTILLATOR, who rocked the hell out of us. Can you imagine, that these guys played at the ‘70000 Tons Of Metal cruise? That must have been an awesome experience, but the show here in Stadskanaal must have been killer for them, too, I think. If you can play on festivals like that, what can go wrong for the future?

Three down and one more band to go. Let’s prepare for the headliners of tonight and that’s PICTURE. Tonight they will play one of the last shows in this line-up. Pete Lovell is stepping out and he is taking guitar players Andre Wullems and Mike Fergusson with him to his new outfit LOVELL’S BLADE. I wonder, what this does to the band? Well, PICTURE will return to base one with Jan Bechtum on guitar, Ronald van Prooijen on vocals and Appie de Gelder on guitar. We’ll have to wait until 2017 for this to happen though and only a few final shows will be played in the line-up of tonight. It’s not the first time, that PICTURE hits the stage in Stadskanaal. When they start off with “Griffons Guard The Gold”, it’s quite obvious, that there is only one band in Holland, that can be put in the headliner position and that’s the mighty PICTURE. From minute one, the hall is going crazy and especially with the fast tunes I’m also going out of my head, like in “Message From Hell” for example. This has always have been one of my personal favorite songs. “Diamond Dreamer” continues and “You’re All Alone” follows next. The band is doing alright, but I hear that people have seen them play better. “Eternal Dark” is the crowd pleaser and that first riff is definitely a killer one, which made them really famous. Think about HAMMERFALL covering this particular song. “Make You Burn” continues and although the enthusiasm of the band is perhaps a little bit less than before, the musical quality is definitely the same. I wonder, what the atmosphere in the backstage area was like. “Heavy Metal Ears” grabs back to the early days and after that, another crowd pleaser follows with “Bombers”. Rien’s appearance in the hall, instead of being on the stage, is highly appreciated by the fans. They are surrounding him, until his very last moment of fame, after which he goes back on stage again. “Unemployed” is definitely another highlight and to me, PICTURE rules again big time, because of the excellent song choice. “Masterplan” is following by yet another favorite. It’s one of the heaviest PICTURE songs I guess, which is called “The Blade”. Still, now I too have to admit, that there is something missing. They’ve still got the fire, but it’s not the ‘holy fire’ tonight. “Battle Of The Universe” makes up for that, which is another straight forward rocker, that make your neck muscles rise from excitement. “Underworld” seems to be a new song on the list, which has a well-deserved and permanent place. During closer “Lady Lightning”, the band is being introduced to the crowd. It’s no real surprise, that PICTURE will have to come back for an encore. And with “Hangmen” they nicely surprised me. Lovell will play one or two more gigs, before he will continue with LOVELL’S BLADE. Of course they will receive my full support as well. When you look deep inside my heart (and people who know me very well, won’t be surprised), I am so much looking forward to see the original line-up of PICTURE back on stage with a new second guitar player in the line-up. Look on the bright side of life. Now we have two marvelous bands to look forward to. PICTURE fans will be satisfied with this gig and I was too, because this band will never let you down. After about fifteen to twenty minutes, we will be back in Jipsinghuizen for a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow day two will be coming up with more metal mayhem. You can turn out the lights now Hugo, we’ll be back tomorrow.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Fox Stadskanaal, Stadskanaal, The Netherlands

Eight bands are on the bill today with one obvious choice for a quick bite. That’s how we see our schedule of Saturday. Breakfast has been a very nice hangout with our Belgian friends. Besides Eddy and Christine, there are a few more metal friends here and next week we will meet the same crew in Lauda-Konigshofen on the Keep It True festival. Vicious plans have been made already and it’s just great to hang out with people, who have their metal heart at the right place. They like their rock hard and you will see them on every corner of the street, where bands are playing. I just love that attitude and they live just for the music. You don’t see that kind of dedication too much anymore, except from people, who are of the same age as we are maybe. And you don’t want to know how old we are. I even went to school with Methusalem. Now you know. After breakfast, there’s still a bit of time for a walk in the area. We don’t care about the rain or hail, that falls down, after all we will be in the venue for the rest of the day.

Day two starts here and we are sure ready for it. First we take some more time to discover what’s going on at the little metal market. The program of today shows a lot of variation and the opener of today already has got my special attention. After seeing this band in at the British Steel festival in London, we know that they put on a dynamic show by mixing newer tracks with golden oldies. SOLDIER has played on the “Heavy Metal Heroes” compilation and became immortal to me, because of that. Yes, indeed it was that first compilation album with the hand above the water holding up a Flying V. I must have played it a zillion times and all the songs sounded like pure gold. SOLDIER are on it with a song they will also play this very afternoon. God bless them for that and they sure made my day. Next to this accomplishment they have this seven inch about a girl, whose name starts with an S. But let’s start at the very beginning here. There you go. On the eight day, God created rock and roll and he saw it was good…... I’m just kiddin’ here, people. SOLDIER starts their set tonight with “Infantrycide”, the title track off their EP. A good start, where the guitar players are able to stretch out and warm up their fingers. They’re going to need it. “Storm Of Steel” is on next, which is a big kick in the teeth at the beginning of the gig. It brings back some very good memories. This is what I wanted to hear. Miles Goodman takes care of a lot of the solo parts, but Ian Dick isn’t afraid to burn his fingers, too. They are used to each other and as a guitar tandem they work things out really fine. “Bedlam” is a much newer track. It’s striking that most of the newer material played here tonight is taken from the previous album “Dogs Of War”, like this one. More recent stuff from “Defiant” is still left out of the set. Too unknown yet for the fans, I guess. Another huge part of the set is being reserved for the “Sins Of The Warrior” album from 2005, that follows with “Sins Of The Warrior” / “In My Room”. They are all solid metal tracks with a traditional NWOBHM sound, although they have been written many years later. “I Can’t Breathe” is followed by the excellent “Murderous Night”, which is in fact another highlight to me. They released this track as a single and it’s a shame that it didn’t get the proper recognition. “Dogs Of War” is on next and the band is in a killer shape today. What a shame, that they had to kick off here today, but hell did they play a great set. Their forty-five minutes set closes with “Sheralee” and I think it’s time to sing along a bit. Not too loud, as I don’t want to distract the attention from the band members and they have to focus on their instruments on magical moments like that. What a great song, even after thirty-five years. SOLDIER has still got the strength to make me look with my mouth open. What an awesome beginning of this second day of Very ‘Eavy. Slowly, the hall fills and it’s time to check out the SOLDIER merchandise table. I am very pleased, that they have their live CD with them, recorded in Scotland. Soon after the show, the guys show up to meet and greet with their fans. What a great band and what a shame, that it took so long to get them over here in Holland. Both horns up for SOLDIER!!

Same goes for the band CETI from Poland. Maybe they are not as well-known as SOLDIER for the average metal fan, but I’ve reviewed a lot of albums for Metal Maidens, because they have a female keyboard player, the beautiful, blonde haired Marihuana (excellent name!!! and so much better and easier to pronounce than Maria Wietrzykowska). I don’t smoke the stuff, but it’s still very well chosen. The big and important man in the band is actually former TURBO singer Grzegorz Kupczyk. He is a huge hero in Poland and in my book, because he has done so much for the recognition of heavy metal over there. CETI is a band with a long history since their foundation in 1989 and we’re quite excited and happy to finally see them in a live situation. The backdrop looks nice and the keyboards have a prominent place on the left side of the stage. Ihe band starts off with “Fight To Kill”. This powerful track is a good example of things to come. The dynamic band CETI will focus on the faster metal tracks, whereas the guitars will take the lead and the keyboards will fill up the spaces and add a melodic touch to this power. “Wizards Of The Modern World” continues and it’s obvious, that Grzegorz is making an effort towards his English announcements, that go pretty fluently to be honest. “Devil Made Me Do It” is one of the newer songs, for which they made an official video. Most of the songs are taken from the “Brutus Syndrome” album. I wouldn’t have mind, if they played a few more older songs as well. Not that this is bad, on the contrary and I realize, that this is getting close to their sound of today. “Sons Of Brutus” is next and it’s a shame that some people aren’t really interested in CETI. Those, who did stayed to watch these Polish metal heads were pleasantly surprised. “Game Of Love” comes next and the guitar players show their skills very well. The main problem, when you hire a band like CETI, is that the people don’t know them too well and they don’t take the time to check them out that easily. If you like the band however, you still don’t know their songs. The enthusiasm of the band and especially Grzegorz is untamable and their show goes on with “The Song Will Remain”. The lady behind the keyboards is not just there to look pretty. Sure, she attracts the attention of many male music fans in the audience, but by putting things together, CETI does quite a fantastic gig here in Stadskanaal. “Forever” continues and with “Song Of Desert” they also put in an older track, originally released in 2003. It sounds a bit heavier than the recent stuff. The band closes their set with “The Evil And The Troy” and “Killing Time”. Grzegorz gives it another go to let the audience clap their hands. And then it’s over. I’ve seen a very good show. I would have loved to hear oldies like “Satan’s Cavalry” for example, but that was wishful thinking. The fact, that the band has finally been on stage in Holland easily made up for that. Now I got the chance to complete my collection, because the career overview DVD of Grzegorz Kupczyk is a nice trophy after a good gig of these Polish headbangers. Oh, and in case you wondered, CETI stands for Communication with Extra Terrestial Intelligence, the 1971 NASA program. If you didn’t see the show, you just weren’t smart enough. No wonder, that big names like DEEP PURPLE chose CETI to support them in Poland.

On we go with DAMIEN THORNE after that. It came to me as a surprise, that they introduced their new keyboard player yesterday, meaning that they only have one guitar player, Ken Mandat, and he’s a killer guitarist. In combination with the songs and an enthusiastic audience, it’s the perfect match for a great concert. Of course we came to hear the old stuff, but you’ll never know what happens with the addition of a keyboard player. “Salem” is a strong opener and contains a nice guitar solo, which was difficult to hear from where I was standing though and that’s the right side of the stage. On our way to Jipsinghuizen, we already had a quick listen to their most recent album “Soul Stealer”, which sounds absolutely brilliant to me. “Sign Of The Jackal” continues, which is welcomed with open arms, because you can say whatever you want, but this is the stuff that people want to hear this afternoon. “Fire In The Sky” and “Raise Your Horns” are on next and they are both taken from “Haunted Mind”, which sounded very dark to me. In a live situation, I like the songs so much better. And quite some horns were up during “Raise Your Horns” of course. The keyboards play a very dominant role in their live sound and when Ken starts playing his guitar solo, sometimes it’s actually difficult to hear him. His guitar sound drowns in the sound of the band, which is a shame. “Dark Ancestor” is next and sometimes the band throws some merchandise into the audience. They know to please their fans. Not only with merchandise, but also with a strong live set. My suggestion however would be, that they add a second guitar player in the band. It would really make the difference. Ken is more than able to do the solos on his own, no question about it, but it would create a much better and fuller sound. Don’t get rid of the keyboard player though. His sound was warm and reminded me of DEEP PURPLE or URIAH HEEP a bit, although DAMIEN THORNE definitely has a rawer edge to their sound. “Ride To Glory” and “Soul Stealer” are from the most recent album. The highlight of tonight’s show however comes at the very end with a stunning version of “Damien’s Procession”. OMG, what a brilliant closure! Not on the set list, but as an extra bonus, they play a cover version of “The Mob Rules” of BLACK SABBATH at the end. What a nice treat by this band from Chicago, Illinois. DAMIEN THORNE didn’t rip the flesh from your bones, but they killed you softly and tattooed three sixes in your neck after that. Naughty Damien. It was ever so nice, that Hugo brought them over. Good quality US Metal is always much appreciated and DAMIEN THORNE delivered it this afternoon. After the show they came to see their fans, so I was told and they gave away all their merchandise, so they wouldn’t have to take it back on the plane to America. What a killer action. No wonder, that I couldn’t find any merchandise afterwards. Nobody tells me a thing.

I always feel very sorry for the band, that goes up on stage at dinner time. This year it has to be PARAGON, that we were going to miss out on. Not completely of course, because we wanted to take some pictures from the beginning of the show and we hoped to be back at the end of the show to see the last moments. We already decided to eat at a place nearest to the Fox club. PARAGON is a German power metal band, that we have seen before on one of our trips to Wacken. Their fast ear attacks will definitely appeal to the metal heads over here and they kick off with the golden oldie “Abducted” from the 2002 album “Law Of The Blade”. After “Hellgore” and “Gods Of Thunder”, we leave the hall and ran for our lives to get something to eat at the diner three doors away from the Fox nightclub. I am glad, we didn’t get a ticket for walking too fast. From the list on stage, we know that they played the following songs after we left: “ Rising Forces”, “H.B.H.” (which stands for “Hell Beyond Hell”), “Palace Of Sin”, “Tornado”, “Impaler”, “Armies” and we catched up with the band again when they play the last riffs of the set closer “Thunderstorm”. If you like your rock powerful and energetic, then PARAGON is definitely your thing.

TYTAN is next on the bill and you must admit that their “Rough Justice” album can’t be topped in the NWOBHM scene. Their music sounds melodic and their links with bands like ANGEL WITCH made them very interesting in the first place, when they started out in 1981. Strange things have happened with this band actually. Their album was released, after they broke up. And they became immortal for the Dutch metal fans, because Hanneke Kappen played their song “The Ballad Of Edward Case” many times in her radio show “Stampij”. She liked it so much, because of the funny way it finishes. The fact that Kevin ‘Skids’ Riddles is still a band member is pretty amazing and he is a cult hero in my book. He’s a funny guy with a good sense of humor, he has a great voice, is a stunning bass player and the perfect front man for his band. They open with “Cold Bitch” and obviously a lot of songs will be from that one album, they released. The question is which other songs will they play tonight? Another strange detail is that in the thirty-five years of existence they only made one album, that is re-released a zillion of times. You can sense what impact this had in the NWOBHM scene. It was a true killer album, so much is true. “Money For Love” is next and the venue is jam-packed. I will have a look from the left side of the stage right and notice the positive reaction of the audience to another track from “Rough Justice”, namely “Forever Gone”. With “The Cradle” they give us a nice pre-taste of some of the new material. Yes, you read that right! There is some new material on the way. It’s not clear yet, when this will see the light of day, but it’s on its way. We’ve waited for thirty-plus years, so we can wait for another few months, no problem. The song matches very well to the rest of the material, but I say that after only one listen of course. There are no members of ROCK GODDESS around to do the background vocals of “Women On The Frontline”. Despite this small and very minor detail, the song is still a killer! “Rude Awakening” is the TYTAN version of LED ZEPPELIN’s “Kashmir”. Not my words, but Kevin put it that way himself. I can surely hear some resemblance. Don’t make them take you to court. Remember the ultra-funny case of RANDY CALIFORNIA and LED ZEPPELIN about “Stairway To Heaven”? Who’s kidding who now? Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against the great music of the late RANDY CALIFORNIA, but to start about this matter forty years after THE ZEP released “Stairway To Heaven” is a nice topic for a good laugh. Randy is dead for almost twenty years now. Give him and THE ZEP a break, please. But I’m afraid I’m floating away from the subject here. “Fight The Fight” is on next and each song is killer with fantastic guitar work and the nice friendly announcements of Kevin in between makes me aware that this is easily getting a highlight to me. Their pleasure of playing live on stage sure reflects to the audience, who adores the band... “Far Cry” continues and “Billy Who” is another lesser known song of TYTAN. Lemmy is being honored in “Read The Words”. The seclusion is on its way and the classic tune “Blind Men And Fools” is the highlight of many visitors. Just hear them singing along on this one, it all sounds so f***ing amazing! The gig closes with “Far Side Of Destiny” and it’s obvious that many people will agree with me that TYTAN played a brilliant set tonight. You could see the joy on the faces of the band members and the enthusiasm they cranked out the songs. And when you think it’s all over, you’ll have to think again. Kevin decides to give it another go to satisfy all the fans on more time. And they deserved it! The surprise gets even better, when they start “The Ballad Of Edward Case”. No funny jokes or silly interludes today, but a short and fast version of the song that was played at the radio for so many times in the eighties by Hanneke, whose name will re-appear later on in this article. TYTAN ruled and hats off for this band from London, who really made my day.

Then it’s time to have a band on stage, that sings in Dutch. A needle in a haystack in the heavy metal scene of Holland, I can tell you that much. English is a universal language and with good music you can even conquer the whole galaxy, but how many people do you reach by singing in Dutch? That may be a negative thing about VANDALE for foreigners. The positive thing is that they do know to point out at the problems in our country. People in England won’t be interested too much in those matters maybe, so they are only interesting for people who live in this country. Like I mentioned already, the music of VANDALE is timeless and think about all those bands that sing in their native tongue. If they are good, it didn’t hurt them. VANDALE always knew to amaze me. Their dynamic shows, most of these shows were with PICTURE, but also with their great music and excellent lyrics. I even saw them on Queensday somewhere in Limburg, supported by Kabouter Plop. Foreigners should check out that name, you won’t believe your eyes. Those were the days. The critical lyrics are still up to date in many cases. It proves, that the government didn’t actually learn a lot over all those years. The problems remained and this gives VANDALE the right to sing them over and over again, without being old-fashioned. After the instrumental intro, singer Bert van Klaveren enters the stage and he takes us along for a trip down memory lane. The audience welcomes him as a true hero and together with guitar player Eddy Bop, he’s one of the two original band members. A ride through the past, that’s what the first song is all about, which is called “Terug In De Tijd” (Back In Time). The band points to the good old days. And it’s so recognizable. They don’t just give a powerful performance, but they also give you food for thoughts and value for money. Getting across from Limburg to Groningen is like travelling the whole world to play it on a one hour gig. “Vrienden Uit De Kroeg” is the first oldie, directly followed by one of their most well-known tracks, which is “Geitenwollensokkenrockers” (a non-translatable word, but think about old hippies to get an idea what it’s all about). There are some technical difficulties with the guitar sound of Eddy, but they don’t let things go down, because of that. VANDALE is too professional to make much fuzz of the situation and they just strike back twice as hard. They have the right spirit and that’s also what the next song is all about, called “Als Je Hart Maar Goed Zit”. Another highlight is a song about the atomic bomb and the threat that it might fall one time. Well, I must admit that I wouldn’t be surprised if it would happen one of these days. See how the lyrics are accurate up to date, even thirty-plus years after they wrote it. The song is called “Paddenstoel” and it has always been one of the highlights in their live shows many years ago. “Pet In Bed” and “ ‘T Zit Me Tegen” are songs that you can easily sing along to with the band. “Rot Op” (or ‘F*ck Off’) is too fast. The band presses the pedal to the metal. Next to TYTAN, they easily are getting the big winners of today’s festival day. The energy is so huge, that everybody gets a kick out of their show. Guess which song is next on the bill? “Complete Kick” of course. No need to translate that, I guess. There is also room for a new song, but I think that people who’ve seen VANDALE recently will sing along to this one already. “Betale” is probably a well-known track, that matches very well with the rest of the material. It’s easy on the ears and no doubt a VANDALE song from the beginning until the end. It’s about the fact that you have to pay for everything. You only don’t have to pay any money to see the sun shine. “Niemand” (‘Nobody’) closes the set, which is another fast rocker. What a great show and I think that everybody will agree with me, when I say that VANDALE played to kill tonight. No wonder, that they have to come back for at least three encores. They start with a new song, called “Vecht” (‘Fight’). They say, that you have to fight for your right nowadays. “Weet Ik Veel” is a love song, but not an ordinary love song or a ballad. It’s a typical VANDALE love song. A person falls in love, but doesn’t remember the name of the girl or where she lives. Didn’t we all have this experience once in our lifetime? I did, I must confess. It was hit-worthy back in those days. Their marvelous gig closes with “Stale Verhale” (Literally translated ‘Stories Of Steel’, but they mean stories that you keep telling because they’re so good). Well, one of the stories will be in the future, that VANDALE played an excellent show here tonight. They made the sweat dripping down from the wall, leaving the crowd behind astonished and glad, that they were there to witness this miracle. And the headliners still have to come.

In between the performances you only have a couple of moments to catch up with people, that you haven’t seen for a long time. Like the guys from MARTYR, who talked about their new album and they brought some vinyl with them. The well-known re-releases from High Roller Records. And you could also buy a copy of the CD by PROUD EXISTENCE on the label Virgin Killer Entertainment from Coenraedt Bacquer. This is a must have for every devoted metal head like myself. Koen actually did a fantastic job here. Both horns up for him! And before you know it, THE RODS are on stage already. A sound check always takes a long time, but afterwards they have a fantastic clear sound most of the time. Having seen them in Amstelveen at the Heavy Metal Maniacs festival was already a good warming up. Now we would have the chance to see them twice in two weeks. They’d also play at Keep It True, a week later. They had to cut down their set a little and started off in full force with “Evil In Me”, a David ‘Rock’ Feinstein song. THE RODS are not just playing music, they also give you a great show. Excellent poses, some head banging, great moves and amazing solos, that will make you eat your hat from excitement. And particularly, they’re treating their fans to some terrific songs. Each one is a killer. “Hurricane” is already a good example of such a killer track. If you never saw the band before, you will be flabbergasted by the energy of these guys. They also studied very hard on their moves and even Michael Jackson or Madonna could learn a thing or two from them. Mind you, their moves are certainly not childish or wimpy and besides that, they also play a great instrument and have an excellent sound. “Let Them Eat Metal” and “Born To Rock” are on next. It’s time to sing along, because I was born to rock, too. These first three songs follow each other real quickly and have been blended together as some kind of medley. “Night Lives” and Violation” are next. The sound is good and Carl Canedy claims his solo spot to split the set in half. A good drummer deserves one and no doubt about it that Carl is an amazing drummer, so go for it, brother! The stage is all yours. I know that there are a lot of people, who hate drum solos, but I love them. “Hold On To Life” follows and when “Wild Dogs” comes next, we get to hear another classic. THE RODS create such a solid sound, which could very well be from a four piece band: it’s heavy and it rocks you completely off your feet. “Hot City” and “Cold Sweat & Blood” are on next. Then the moment we all have been waiting for, is there. Would she be there? After all, the woman, who wrote the original version of “Nothing Going On In The City” lives only thirty miles away from Stadskanaal. And she still sings this song frequently in a more jazzy version. I’m talking about Hanneke Kappen here from WHITE HONEY. But unfortunately, it’s not going to happen. However, the RODS played a steaming version of this classic tune. You can’t have it all and you wouldn’t say, there’s ‘nothing going on in the city’ of Stadskanaal tonight, when the RODS are playing. What a blast! The show closes with two more highlights, “Crank It Up” and the fast “Power Lover”. They roll over each other and keep playing. This was another cool performance. This day went by pretty fast and all that’s left now is the headliner of tonight. But first it’s time to have a chat with Bernard Rive of SAD IRON, and shortly after Bertus Westerhuis of JURASSIC PARK and FRANKENSTEIN. They all had a great time and it’s always nice to see them around.

We have plenty of time, because the soundcheck of ULI JON ROTH , who is the headliner of tonight, is taking ages. Uli is a brilliant guitar player, who is very underrated in my opinion. People, who like the man’s music however (like me) can’t get enough of his guitar licks. He plays in Holland very often and he always knows to astonish me. The last time we saw him was at Keep It True, where you could hear a pin drop during the short acoustic set that he did over there. It was pure magic. Now, he made us wait very long, before finally showing up with “All Night Long”. This would be a two hour show and the band line-up seemed slightly different than the last time in Germany. The concept however is the same: two hours of mainly SCORPIONS material. What more can you ask for? A live show of Uli Jon Roth is never the same. The man plays what comes up in his mind. Sometimes there are some slight differences, while at other times the songs are played in a different order or some songs are added or have been left out. “Longing For Fire” is next and the lengthy renditions give Uli more than enough space for his guitar solos. I’m in (guitar) heaven, when the man starts playing his guitar solos. That’s what we came for and we want to hear! “Pictured Life” continues and people start singing along. The atmosphere is amazing, although the sound could be much better. “Drifting Sun” and “Sun In My Hand” are on next and sometimes the sound problems are really annoying. Not only the people in the audience are wondering what’s going on, you can also see Uli’s reaction that he is not amused at all. The band goes into a safe modus for a while with some real classics, like “We’ll Burn The Sky” and “In Trance”, crowd pleasers of the first kind. Sometimes the loud peeping sound keeps coming back and Uli’s enthusiasm, that he always has, is fading away. You can see it happen. “Fly To The Rainbow” is being played in a very good way and Uli gives it all he has got with a lengthy guitar outro. What follows after the highlight of this show is a long instrumental improvisation, in which the drummer receives enough space to show his skills. And the way it sounds, you would almost think that this was an unplanned jam. The fantastic tribute to the SCORPIONS closes with “Dark Lady”. One more time the crowd sings along and gives the guitar wizard all the respect, that he earns so much. Then it’s all over and Hugo can be proud of what he has achieved in the cozy city of Stadskanaal. Of course, the crowd won’t let Uli go without playing an encore or two or three. The man has been announced so huge before this actual gig took place, that it would be a shame if this would be the end of this metal cult party in the northern part of our country. For the encores, Uli grabs back to his fascination for JIMI HENDRIX and I don’t mind at all. Although there could be an argument about opener “All Along The Watchtower”, which is of course originally written by Bob Dylan. If HENDRIX hadn’t covered it, it would never become that huge, I guess. “If 6 Was 9” has always been one of my personal favorites and I’m glad that he played it here tonight. With “Little Wing”, (what else, would I say) the band says goodbye to the audience and the whole show is over.
My Facebook pages will explode from now on with all the information about the next edition of this Dutch heavy metal festival, that can call themselves one of a kind. I think, that we can look back to another amazing festival and we’d like to thank Hugo and Ellen Koch and their crew for doing another outstanding job with Very ‘Eavy! The night club and (heavy) metal fans is and will remain a weird combination, but somehow it worked out fine.
After the gig we spend more time with our friends from Belgium. Talking about what we have seen and making plans for next week. Then it’s time to say goodbye to everybody. A lot of people we will see exactly one week thereafter in Lauda-Koningshofen for Keep It True. The madness has only just begun and what a marvelous night it was. Thanks again, Hugo and Ellen and the crew, that was responsible for another fantastic event. We had a blast and hope you did as well. We hopefully will see each other again next year. In the meantime, we can say that the program for Very ‘Eavy 2017 is taking great shape. Confirmed are: BACKSLASH, HITTEN, OVERRULED, NIGHT DEMON, WARRIOR, STRANGER, BLIKSEM, HOLOCAUST, BLITZKRIEG, VARDIS, TOKYO BLADE and ANGEL WITCH. Who said, that they can’t rock in Holland?

*Text by: Toine van Poorten/August 2016
*Photos by: Rita van Poorten/

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