* September 01, 2007 *

When we heard, that GILGAMESJ would play on this years edition of Glaspop in Leerdam, we put the date in our agenda right away. Two days before we were leaving for our summer holidays to Russia. Let me get the record straight before we start this review though. This was NOT a GILGAMESJ gig nor a reunion gig or whatsoever. This was a live show of ZIXTH ZENSE and a tribute to the band GILGAMESJ, including former members of GILGAMESJ. Okay, now on to the review of this mighty experience.

Already months before the actual event took place, we were looking forward to seeing the band play live again. But before GILGAMESJ took the stage at Glaspop, we also watched SIZE 10, the band of one of the organisers of this festival, Johan Vos. Their groovy metal really took me by surprise, and Johan’s performance reminded me a lot of Phil Anselmo of PANTERA. Groovy riffs and a very tight rhythm section seemed to please the small crowd and shook the tent on its foundations. Johan told me how proud he was to play before GILGAMESJ, after being a fan of the band for so many years. But I think that it’s only a matter of time before some young band will be proud to support SIZE 10 on stage. This band will hopefully have a long successful future ahead of them. Their groove absolutely rocks you.
The main reason why we went to the hockey fields in Leerdam West (the location of Glaspop) though was the live show of GILGAMESJ. And although we already explained to you that this was not a GILGAMESJ gig but a ZIXTH ZENSE show, I can not help myself to name this band GILGAMESJ. This band has made such an impact on the Dutch history of heavy metal to me and their musical legacy is so important to me as a fan, that it really felt like a GILGAMESJ gig. Mainly because the setlist contained a lot of old GILGAMESJ songs, and the band was billed as GILGAMESJ. But for the good order, I will continue this review by referring to ZIXTH ZENSE instead of GILGAMESJ, if you don’t mind.
When the band got announced and climbed the stage, the tent started to get crowded with long lasting fans, who didn’t want to miss this event. People, who have been following the career of these guys for thirty years or more. It’s incredible what kind of an impact this band can have on people. They may not be effected by the metal music of today in some cases, but for GILGAMESJ they gladly make an exception. You see them become young again and relive their youth to the sound of these musicians. False teeth are brushed, the tires of wheelchairs were pumped up to the max and all other artificial parts were cleaned by the fans, but also and especially by the older band members. Some may have lost all their hair, some even got grey hair, while others have grown some beer muscles, if you know what I mean, but in general the music of this band remained the same. And I mean that class and perfection is still there. Sure, there may have been some small slip of the tongue here and there, but the band still sounds fresh and alive and show that they are not just any hardrock band, who is just starting out a career.
These guys still know to touch my soul from the moment they start their one hour set with the HUGHES/THRALL cover “Muscle And Blood”. Frontman Frank van Stijn was already pointing at his belly, when singing “Muscle” in the refrain. Another aspect that I always liked from this band. The ability to combine great music with a subtle touch of humour on stage as well. And this small frontman with the great voice sure knows to make this combination like no one else does. It’s never over the top, and you have to watch carefully sometimes to discover the jokes that he is making. His voice however is always in great shape. Especially when you take in account that he never stands still, and he is here, there and everywhere around on stage during the show. He must have some golden vocal chords to do this. After this magnificent opener, they start up the show with some ZIXTH ZENSE material. “Right Here, Right Now” could be described as melodic hard rock with its roots in the early eighties. Straight hard rock, yet with enough space for the great guitarwork of Sylvester and Gerrie. At the end of this song, drummer Willem Prins decides to kill his snare drums. He must have thought, if I kill it, I’ll do it right here, right now - a perfect plan!
“No Contact” is one of those songs, that I didn’t hear that much before, but it fitted perfectly well to the rest of the material played this evening. “Down The Road” sounds a bit like “I Don’t Know” of OZZY. Just listen to it and you will probably find some resemblance, too. “Hot Cherrie” was not so well-known to me as well, but again it gets to you pretty easily because of the great musicianship of the band. A band, that was enlarged with keyboardplayer Chris van Hoogdalem for this special occasion. The first highlight of today appears, when the band plays “Lost In Paradise”. It’s one of the last songs ever written by GILGAMESJ, and it was also on the album “Tooth Of Time” of ZIXTH ZENSE. The opening riffs are so recognisable, and although the emotional lyrics almost make you cry, there was another subtle joke of Frank again, that will make you laugh instead. When he sings that he is lost in a dream, he walks around like a blindman, wandering around in a labyrinth. It’s only for a couple of seconds, but these magical moments make this frontman so special and perfect to me.
Next, it’s time to get Stanley Sanders on stage for the more heavy stuff. It’s been quite some time since we saw Stanley perform, and it was great to see that he still can play. I don’t really know, if he is still playing on a regular base. But I think that he is playing every now and then. If I’m not mistaken, he brought a good friend with him to the festival - Toine van der Linden - another hero in the Dutch metal hsitory (well-known for his work with bands like HOT LEGS and MARTYR, to name but a few). Anyway, before Frank could ask Stanley if he still knew to play “Oppression”, Stanley had already started the riffs to this classic. It’s the perfect song to let all the musicians show their skills. And they played so easily like they had been playing together for so many years with Sylvester. Sylvester developed himself into a great tandem guitarplayer, next to Gerrie den Hartog. And he seemed to play these twin parts quite easily. Now the solo parts were shared by three guitarplayers, which created an even fuller sound, but also some massive buzzing in some parts. Anyway, on to the next classic.
Tonight they changed the name of this beautiful ballad into “Diarrhoeabreak”, instead of “Daybreak”. It’s another magic song from the well-known “Take One” EP. One of the very few ‘must have’ albums in the history of Dutch heavy metal next to “Schandale” of VANDALE, the first three PICTURE albums and “Bold As Brass” by BODINE. “Lightning Strikes” was a song written by Frank after the dead of his father. The emotions of the songwriter are reflected in its purest form here, without giving the song the sad taste you would expect. Another point of recognition in tonight's set is the fact, that the band played “Voyager” of GAMMA again. A song, that has been on their setlist for many years now, and a GILGAMESJ show was almost never complete without it. A leading role in this song for the guitars again. And this time Gerrie opens all the registers, like it’s his own song. His guitarplaying is very recognisable and diverse. He is not the typical guitarhero in the way that we think about guitarheroes. When you think about guitarheroes you may think of STEVE VAI, JOE SATRIANI, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, RITCHIE BLACKMORE, JIMMY PAGE, JIMI HENDRIX or JEFF BECK. With Gerrie I always end up comparing him to people like PAT THRALL, early MICHAEL SCHENKER, early GARY MOORE, early PAT TRAVERS and especially RONNIE MONTROSE. For some people these guys may be the lesser Gods in the scene, but for real connoisseurs they are the cream of the crop. And Gerrie is the cream of the crop for me. And in “Voyager” he shows, that he is still one of the finest guitarplayers in the Dutch scene. No, let me rephrase that. He is one the finest guitarplayers in the European rock scene, if not in the entire world. And I’m not fooling around here, because for me this guy belongs to the premier ranks of guitarplayers for many, many years already. This evening, he proves his skills once again with some very fine axework, this song is only worthy.
Then on for some lighter material with KINGDOM COME’s “Highway 6”, which is another well-known song from the band’s later shows. Slowly, we reach the end of tonight’s show, but not before Willem kills his high hat. And so Frank can start the discussion of what the best remedy is against prostate problems. Or tell a short story about Nico van Dijk, who followed the band to a gig in Germany in his Lada, and had to return in the van of the band, because he slipped away on the icy surface of the road. What a way to kill the time, when you’re having difficulties on stage. That’s real professionalism, in my opinion. Always entertain your fans, don’t let them down, not even in a case of failure on stage. After Frank’s medical interval, the band continues with another classic in my book “Ticket To Heaven” from the “Metal Clogs” album. Those were the days! The joy on the faces of the band members show me that they really love these moments. Moments, in which the audience slowly goes wild. The older, balder people bang their heads, there is some wild dancing in front of the stage and the three guitarplayers are pulling eachother up to the highest level possible.
When Johan Vos of the organisation gives a sign, that there is still time for only one song, the swords are sharpened again for the final song, a crowd pleaser pur sang. “Revolution” is one of the most well-known GILGAMESJ songs and with three guitarplayers and a stunning bass player in the front, it is this song that pleases the crowd the most. People had been asking for this song from about the midst of this set on, but it remains the set-closer of this evening. They play it a little bit slower than you might expect. I think, that they respect the average high age of their fans.
With “Revolution” we have come to the final chords in this ZIXTH ZENSE hour. An hour that will remain in my thoughts for a very long time. With a good feeling my summer holidays have started. The enthusiasm and perfect musicianship of the bandmembers made me realise, that this band is still playing music in the best possible way. It’s a shame though, that only a very few die-hard fans recognise their strength. I hope, that I can persuade the organisers of the annual Heavy Metal Maniacs festival to put this band on their bill for the 2008 edition of their festival. They are able to blow every young and starting band off the stage, when they play a set like this. With the exception of “Head Shaker” off the “Take One” EP, which I missed in their set, but instead I heard so many other classics, that I didn’t give a damn. ZIXTH ZENSE played a killer show. And I hope that people open their eyes and put them on the bill of their festival in the near future as well. For old time sake. This is a band, that knows how to please their audience, whether they play under the name of GILGAMESJ, ZIXTH ZENSE or ZIXTH ZENSE - a tribute to GILGAMESJ. The name doesn’t say a thing, it’s the classy musicians that make the difference. So our thanks go out to the organisation of the Glaspop festival and to Chris, Willem, Stanley, Rene, Sylvester, Gerrie and Frank for a wonderful hour. One I will never forget. You guys really rule!!!

text by: Toine van Poorten/October 2007
ZIXTH ZENSE photos copyright by: Rita van Poorten (Metal Maidens 'zine)

10. VOYAGER (cover GAMMA)

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