[2014]

VANDENBERG'S MOONKINGS
Poppodium Atak, Enschede, The Netherlands
February 21, 2014.

VANDENBERG’S MOONKINGS is the name of the new outfit of Adrian Vandenberg’s new band, that consists of Jan Hoving on vocals, Mart Nijen-Es on drums, Sem Cristoffel on bass and Adrian Vandenberg on guitars. Their CD presentation would take place in Enschede, and almost a month later we would see the band for a second time in Uden. A reflection of what happened during these two shows can be read below. We started to howl at the moon in Enschede in the backyard of Adrian. We took the day off to walk around in the town of Enschede and do some shopping. There is this a fine Mexican restaurant, where we would have our diner and before we knew it, the doors opened of the Atak for the first show of these rocking Moonkings. First we had to find out through which entrance we needed to go in. There were three, one for the backstage area, one for the people who had a ticket and one for those who still needed to buy a ticket or had to exchange their print-out for a ticket. Pretty confusing, but once we were in the waiting started for the doors of the venue to open. Suddenly, Adrian showed up to inspect the merchandise stand. Before he tries to escape into the backstage area, we managed to take a picture with him. Well, at least the female part of us, whereas I took the picture of course. Mission completed, so what could go wrong after that?
The support act of tonight is called THE ROAD HOME, a punk rock foursome from Enschede, that consists of two brothers of Sem. Sem and Mart once were in this band before they met our Flying Dutchman and I must admit, that they played a very tasty high octane-fueled set tonight. The smell of essence filled the venue and their seven songs received a warm reaction by the audiece. Their set consisted from the songs “Rebels”, “Teenage Dancer”, “Young Vigilantes”, “Cold Ground” (with acoustic intro), “Let Me Go”, “Too Cold To Run” and set closer “Starting Over”.
The show of tonight is sold out. The reaction of the audience is overwhelming, when the band hits the stage with “Line Of Fire”, a good opener in which the band is putting the sound right. The album has just been released and I simply didn’t have the time to have a proper listen to it. I hear and read very positive reactions about it everywhere and I can hear why now. Jan presents himself as a frontman without pretentions. He is a very down to earth performer with a helluva voice. Sem is the bass player, that tries to be invisible, but because of his punk experience in the past, he is still moving around in the first ranks. Mart beats the crap out of his drumkit like a newborn John Bonham. And Adrian oversees the whole operation, while his fingers slide over his guitar neck. “Steal Away” continues and the audience shows their appreciation with a warm applause afterwards. “Leave This Town” is on next and you can feel that the band is still searching for the right way to impress their public. It’s their very first gig tonight after playing together at the FC Twente Championship party in 2011, where they played “A Number One” with Jan Vayne. No wonder, that it still feels new to them, but this feeling will soon disappear, so much is for sure. After “Feel It”, the band seems to be in their comfort zone and from there on, things went a bit more smoothly. The motor is running, the band is hot and the crowd is steaming. And we would be in for many nice treats, some of them quite unexpected indeed. The whole past of Adrian comes along in small pieces starting with his band MANIC EDEN. “Pushing Me” is one of the more catchy tunes of that outfit. This is a nice throwback in time to get the story complete. Then it’s time for an awesome surprise for the real fans of Adrian. “Breathing” is the first single and many people are already quite familiar with this song, because I see many fans singing along to the very catchy lyrics. I think, that this song gets as close to the sound of VANDENBERG as possible, except for the cover later on in the set. Mainly because of the harmony vocals and the catchy sing along vibe. If you listen to it a couple of times, you know that it has got all the potential for a hit, but the music scene is so flooded with no-hopers, that this probably isn’t going to happen, although I keep my fingers crossed, that it will. Another surprise is their raunchy version of the STEVIE WONDER classic “Superstition”. It has been covered by many rock bands before, but I really like this version. It has got the right groove all the way. “Good Thing” and “Close To You” are two of my favorite tracks on the debut album, which are being played after this. The old school LED ZEPPELIN groove is there and the crowd gets more and more enthusiastic because of these songs. You could feel that the vibe is right on stage and at the end of “Close To You”, it’s time for Mart to show his skills in a wild drum solo. Obviously, he’s not afraid of playing alone on a big stage performing for an audience. His wild moves remind me of the late John Henry Bonham all the way and that’s a huge compliment. As long as he’s alone, he can’t stop beating the crap out of his kit. When the other band members get back on stage, all he can do is to stop this brutal attack and then it’s time for Jan to stand in the spotlight. Another nice surprise unfolds itself, when the band starts to play “Judgement Day” of WHITESNAKE. A good choice, which matches very well to the sound of the band. After this mighty fine rendition, Jan gets some compliments from his band mate Adrian. Not only he comes very close to the sound of Mr. David Coverdale, but the fact that he dares to gives his best shot to perform this difficult song deserves a huge compliment from Adje. Then it’s time for some acoustic guitar fun with VANDENBERG’s “Burning Heart” and a lot of fans have been waiting for this. Of course, we all know this song with former band mate Bert Heerink on vocals, but man, this sounds just as cool to me. And the rest of the audience agrees with me, I guess. Maybe an obvious choice and I also know, that a lot of people wanted to hear more from VANDENBERG. But I think that the band made a statement by performing only one VANDENBERG song. It’s a crowd pleaser, but when you read the beginning of this article very well, this band is now called VANDENBERG’S MOONKINGS. It shows some resemblance to VANDENBERG, but these are two totally different bands. For the fans it’s nice that they play one song by VANDENBERG, but they’re here to promote their new album and they’re not a simple VANDENBERG cover band. The next moment feels like Santa Claus (or the Dutch Sinterklaas), because we’re treated to another unusual present. Who would have thought that the band would play “I Put A Spell On You” from SCREAMIN’ JAY HAWKINS (the original artist), which was later on made world famous by CREEDENCE CLEAR WATER REVIVAL? Again the song sounds very groovy and matches so well to their sound. The pleasure, this band spreads around on stage, simply reflects back to the fans. The next song “Leeches” is another fine rocker and the time really slips away, when the band announces their last song of tonight, “Lust And Lies”. What a great show! I know, that some people might have been disappointed that they didn’t play more VANDENBERG songs, but maybe this will happen in the future. This was the very first show of a band, whose star will be rising very fast from now on. And what more can you wish for during a CD presentation and very first real gig than a band, that takes this opportunity to perform the whole album in a live situation. To us, this has been an awesome experience. Of course this was not all of it and the band has to return for a few encores. Loud shouting confirms that “Here I Go Again” of WHITESNAKE is the perfect choice to restart the show. The audience sings the song word for word and the grin on Adrian’s face is priceless. Some remaining songs from the debut album are on next. “Nothing Touches (Rock And Roll)” is the first one. It’s a ‘feel good’ rock song, which gives me the same feeling that HELLOISE’s “Rock Unites” carried out at their reunion Zoetermeer gig last year. This song gives you the feeling of being part of one big happy rock family. “One Step Behind” is the very last song of tonight and then it’s time for us to hit the road back to Leerdam. The after party would undoubtedly go on until the very late hours…… The foyer is very crowded and I see a lot of familiar faces. I definitely want to see the band again and three weeks later, this will happen in Uden at De Pul. It was not difficult to talk Rita into of going to see that show as well. In fact, she had to persuade me to go to this show. So we skipped the Zoetermeer gig and three weeks later we stood in the first ranks of another sold out gig in Uden.

Text & photos by: Toine van Poorten

[2014]

VANDENBERG'S MOONKINGS
De Pul, Uden, The Netherlands
March 15, 2014.

It’s three weeks and one show later. But I must admit that this gig was so much better than the gig in Enschede. It felt like the band had been playing for years together and the flow was much more natural now. But first we watched the support act,THE ROAD HOME. Besides the essence, which was there last time as well, I also noticed a comic figure of Peter Criss, the old KISS drummer. A nice detail to mention here, I guess. They played the same set as in Enschede, but because this would be their last show in Holland together, at least for now, they got some bonus time and cranked out a very powerful version of a song called “Louder Now”. Wow, why didn’t they play that song in Enschede? This was really a great set closer and now the waiting was for the headliners to come on stage. After a short time, in which the stage was cleared for the MOONKINGS, the excitement started to grow. About the set list we can be very short. The band plays exactly the same set, but there’s a bit more magic in the air tonight. The band even showed a bit more enthusiasm and the atmosphere felt a bit more relaxed in a way. They also played in a more natural way and it’s like they absorbed all the love of the fans in their heart and soul. They even managed to give one hundred and one percent instead of the full hundred, because of that. If they ever seemed a bit shaky and nervous the first time around, the band played in Uden as if they’d been together for many years or more. At the end of this show, we were treated to a little surprise. Instead of “One Step Behind”, we hear a brilliant version of “Alright Now” of the FREE. A stunning version, that they also played in Paris a couple of days earlier. This is great food for a rocker and it also marked the end of another successful show by VANDENBERG’S MOONKINGS. I also read, that they played “Sailing Ships” in one of their shows abroad, which is on the vinyl version of their debut album. Anyway, I’m glad to have heard “Alright Now” tonight. That first riff is so cool and it always knows to please the music fan. I think, that these cover songs will slowly disappear from their live set and make room for others or more VANDENBERG songs. The future looks very bright for VANDENBERG’S MOONKINGS and they will also invade Germany shortly after these three Dutch gigs. The band has recently announced some festival appearances this summer, like Fortarock, Bospop, Paaspop and City Rock in Leeuwarden, one day before the Into The Grave festival. We will most certainly attend at least one of these gigs, so stay tuned for more MOONKINGS in the future here. This surely tasted like more to me, that’s for sure!

Text & photo by: Toine van Poorten

[2013]

HELLOISE
Boerderij, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands
June 08, 2013.

The reunion gig of HELLOISE was much talked about on the internet. Many people were looking forward to the band that celebrated their last concert in Ahoy, Rotterdam with special guests and a full house to say goodbye to this once successful Dutch band. It’s twenty-five years later now and the original line-up is brought back together for one more show. The event will take place under the monnicker of ‘Life 4 Live’. It’s a must for every devoted Dutch metal fan and a lot of the old headbangers show up for this special event tonight. Just before the doors open, we arrive at the Boerderij, where we don’t see that many people yet. But it’s still very early and this situation will change soon. Recently, we saw vocalist Stan Verbraak perform with the DEEP PURPLE tribute band STORMBRINGER in Azotod, De Meern, where he impressed me as Ian Gillan. He still knows to hit all the high notes without any hesitation, something we can’t say of Mr. Gillan anymore unfortunately. So we knew ahead, that he would astound us with his bright vocal parts tonight. Drum beast Ernst van Ee has never let us down and it looks like he’s ready to beat the crap out of his kit tonight. This four legged drummer is the Dutch equivalent to the late Cozy Powell to me, which he can take as a big compliment. Arjen Boogerds and Ben Blaauw have always been fighting to get the most solos and I think they have made a deal this time to get an equal share. The line-up is completed by Marchell Remeeus. He might look like a quiet guy, but with his everlasting smile, he is a real monster on the bass guitar. These five guys will be the superstars on the dvd, that will be shot here this evening. I really hope, that this one will eventually see the light of day. There have been too many unreleased live shows, that never made it and I think that after tonight a lot of people are dying to have a look back at this cool reunion of the original HELLOISE line-up. Before the gig starts, we see many familiar faces, but one in particular surprised us in a very positive way. Henk Bischop, who we met on our trip to Japan three years ago, recognized us immediately and it was nice to have a short chat with him before the show. Until the lights go out and we have to focus on what would happen on stage tonight. The intro tape gives the band the opportunity to polish their instruments. They kick off with “Polarity”, the title track of the second album. A great way to start and everybody is surprised by the clear sound, that circulates in the hall. Almost right after the last notes of this opener, the band continues with “After The War”. It won’t be too much of a surprise to see that the band grabs back to the first two albums the most, but clearly we also get to hear some songs from “Fata Morgana” and “A Time And A Place For Everything”. “Ready For The Night” is a killer track and even though you haven’t heard it for a while, you can sing the lyrics of this song word by word. “Broken Hearts” is on next and what really strikes me is that Stan Verbraak has got such a golden voice. Almost without any hesitation, he grabs those high and difficult notes one by one. Well, at least it seems this way. We also noticed, that a sixth member has been added to the band to fill up the sound a little bit with his keyboards. Anton Arema seems to enjoy himself a lot on the right side of the stage. “Die Hard” continues the set and we see that some fans have made banners and they even brought flowers to celebrate this reunion show tonight. “See Tomorrow” is followed by the beautiful ballad “Run A Mile”, which was one of the hit singles of the band. It truly captures the well-known sound of HELLOISE. They sound a lot more melodic than HIGHWAY CHILE for example, in which we find back some of the band members. They always sounded more heavy and loud than HELLOISE. I think, that the sound of HELLOISE could be compared to Dutch colleague rockers like ZINATRA, FIRST AVENUE or VANDENBERG. Great melodies, a catchy chorus and sometimes a heavy hook, where the guitar players can show their skills. After “Take It Or Leave It” there’s a short acoustic part consisting of three songs, namely “Fallen Angel”, “Hard Life” and “Madelene”. “Hard Life” is dedicated to Willem Rietveld, the former roadie of the band. Pictures of the man, who was also called ‘het beest’, are being displayed behind the band at a big screen. This is a very emotional part, mainly because his wife and daughter are standing right next to us, but a great tribute to an important man, who has been a good friend of the band. Before the acoustic part gets too long, there’s just a little bit more to round it off. It’s time for Arjen Boogerds to play the acoustical intro to “In The Line Of Fire”, which is called “En La Linea De Fuego”, which is the Spanish translation for “In The Line Of Fire”. Arjen certainly makes something beautiful out of it and just before Thomas Alpha Edison is about to turn himself around in his grave, because this hard rock band isn’t using his well-known invention called electricity, they turn up the sound and explode in a great version of one of my favorite HELLOISE tracks “In The Line Of Fire”. It’s time to sing along to the chorus and the public forms a private HELLOISE-choir in front of the stage. Before I can catch my breath again, they continue with a jukebox of hits. HELLOISE is at their very best right now and the pleasure this band is playing their instruments reflects back to the audience and makes the temperature go up really fast in the Boerderij. They can’t be stopped with great tracks like “Destination” and “Hard Life” (electric version). And if you think, that it can’t get any better than this, the knockout punch comes from another great firm rocker called “Gates Of Heaven”. “For A Moment” is another track, that we actually can call a hit single for the band. It contains a short vocal part, that sounds very much like a short vocal interlude of “Wait” by VANDENBERG. I always have to think about this song, when they play it, I don’t know why. With the title track of the first album “Cosmogony”, their reunion show has nearly come to an end. But before they go, Ben Blaauw gets a solo spot as well and obviously he shows us why he once received the Gibson Birdland, that belonged to TED NUGENT, for being the most talented guitar player according to the listeners of Alfred Lagarde’s Betonuur. Those were the days! The band leaves the stage, but you can put your money on it, that they will return for some encores. During the first encore, there’s a very nice surprise. Just like their last show in Ahoy in 1987, the band asks some friends on stage during “Carol”. It’s so nice to see, that Patricia Paay and Yvonne Keeley took the time to show up tonight. Although they don’t sing with the band, they sure have studied on some nice dance moves on stage. Patricia looks a bit like HIGHWAY CHILE guitarist Martin Mens and her legs are very hairy, which is a detail you just can’t miss. Wow, what a nice surprise! If only I would have expected a more sexy outfit from those two ladies, but hey you can’t have it all. Anyway, after this first encore it’s time for a little fun, before moving on to “So Close To Love”, another straight ballad. Another beautiful song unfolds itself, and you can say that these guys are real masters in playing a sensitive ballad. For me, they saved the best for last. One more time the band is being introduced and they are ready to hit the roof with “Rock Unites”. This slogan is so true and this great rock song becomes the perfect closer of an amazing reunion gig. When I focus on the faces of these six musicians, I can only say that they just have experienced the time of their life and all their fans also enjoyed every single second of these magical moments. I do hope, that the DVD will be accompanied by an audio CD (or a double boxset, which is even better), so I can relive these magical moments any time I want to. A last salute to the fans and then the show is over. But the after party goes on and on, until the lights go down in the bar outside of the venue. I wonder if this gig won’t have any consequences for the statement that this was a one-time reunion show. I wouldn’t mind seeing them again at a club gig. The only song I have been missing is “Give It Up”, but I hope that great musicians like that will never ever give up. HELLOISE rocks!!!!

Text by: Toine van Poorten
Photos by: Rita van Poorten / www.metalmaidens.com

[2011]

MARTYR
Azotod, De Meern, The Netherlands
November 04, 2011.

A couple of years ago, MARTYR launched their comeback EP “Fear” in club Azotod in De Meern. This year the band was possibly even more tensed than they were back then. This time they would present their new album “Circle Of 8” to the public. An audience, that mainly consisted of huge fans and invitees of the band. They know the band like nobody else and can be rather critical, so they come to De Meern with a certain expectation. Before MARTYR enters the stage tonight, we are able to enjoy nothing less than two support acts. I will be short about their performance. The members of THE SLEEPER are some very fine musicians, there ain’t no doubt about that. But the unity within the band seems to be gone. It even looks like everybody is creating its own showcase. Only in the last few songs, there is a solid band performing here, who also plays some nice songs. I recognized some influences of RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, but these last fine moments are not enough to receive a civilized applause, before they leave the stage. REBELSTAR do their job much better. They are more confident and with a little bit of irony and self-mockery, they work very hard to please the crowd from the first notes of opener “Permanent Disaster” until set closer “Another Showdown”. Songs like “Hell Yeah” and “Sick Motherfucker” appeal to the crowd and if you have to choose any musical references, than you will end up with a good mix of bands like L.A. GUNS and the Dutch SLEEZE BEEZ. Filthy, sleazy rock with some dirty edges. Definitely worth listening to and played with the right attitude. Now, that’s the way to present yourself. Everybody was waiting for only one band this evening. MARTYR recently signed a record deal with Metal Blade and tonight’s party was to celebrate the release of their new album “Circle Of 8”. MARTYR - who didn’t grow up with their music?!? The CD “For The Universe” is still in my CD player from time to time. Many people wonder what they will sound like tonight, after checking out some of their newer work on the EP “Fear”. Does it sound dark again or did the band decide to move into another direction? These guys are ready and willing tonight and they have only one mission and that is to raise the roof, before the club gets empty again. When the stage is lit with green laser beams, the waiting is finally over and the band starts their show in a very enthusiastic way with opener “D.I.”. The sound is loud and crystal clear tonight, which isn’t strange of course with a man like Jack Nobelen (HIGHWAY, SAVAGE, HORIZON, STILETTO) behind the mixing desk. This man has got some fine ears and knows to use them very well. After “Afterlife”, we hear an oldie with “Snow & Fire”. It’s a kind of recognition point. Many songs of the new album are presented here tonight and if the CD will sound anywhere near as powerful as their performance tonight, it will surely be a real treat to my ears. The band sounds like a well-oiled machine with singer Rop van Haren as steady moving front man. Despite the slightly ADHD factor, he knows to hit every note without any visible difficulties. Just try it out to move from left to right on stage and still hit every note right on the head. This is only granted to profs. Rop even takes the time to take a shower on stage by using a bottle of water. Just look at the steam coming from his ears! Amazing! “The Uninvited”, “Art Of Deception” and “Scene Of Hell” follow each other in one flowing line. The first big eargasm comes with a song, called “All Warriors Blood”. What a great, heavy song is that! The guitar sound by Marcel Heesakkers and Rick Bouwman was already mind blowing, but this time they really hit the roof in De Meern. During “Speed Of Samurai”, which is still my all-time favorite MARTYR song, the stage is raged by a couple of Heavy Metal Maniacs and at one point there are more people on the stage than there are in front of the stage. A rather fine mess develops itself, but the band aren’t really bothered at all. Their good friends are paying a visit to their heroes and after that song they will clear the stage to make room for the maestros, who continue their set with title track “Circle Of 8”. The second eargasm of this evening follows right after that with a pounding version of “Insensible Scream”. I think, I will have a few more listens to that song, I guess. The party ain’t over until the fat lady sings and we’ll hear two more songs, namely “Most Evil One” and “Eaten Alive”. The show stands tall and especially bass player Toine van der Linden (what, no smoking!?) and vocalist Rop van Haren show the crowd, that they are real party animals. The band wants to party backstage, but they can’t leave the stage without playing another encore and they choose to play the golden oldie “Black Sun”. Once again a moment, in which the Heavy Metal Maniacs take the stage by surprise to have a party with their heroes. The work has been done and the glasses can be filled with champagne after this. “Circle Of 8” has been presented to a live audience and I can tell you, that it has become a real master piece and the band can be very proud indeed! No wonder, that a real heavy metal label like Metal Blade wanted to sign a well-talented band like MARTYR. The circle has been closed here and I guess, we will hear the “Circle Of 8” album on a very regular basis from now on. I am sure of that. Thanks for a wonderful evening of true heavy metal, gentlemen! The holy spirit is still there and we also want to congratulate you on the new album “Circle Of 8”.

Text by: Toine van Poorten
Photos by: Rita van Poorten / www.metalmaidens.com

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