Blog

  • Review: Joe Bonamassa Rocks the Royal Carré Theatre

    8. Nov. 2010, 1:07

    Sun 7 Nov – Joe Bonamassa

    The first time I got to know Joe Bonamassa‘s music was when web store Amazon.com recommended me the album “Sloe Gin”. This recommendation was based on the fact that I ordered a couple of CDs and instruction DVDs from blues guitar player Robben Ford. I remember listening to the album “Sloe Gin”, thinking it was okay but not completely my cup of tea, and lost sight of Joe Bonamassa.

    That was until a friend of mine mentioned Mr. Bonamassa to me and asked if I was interested to go and see him at the Royal Carré theatre in Amsterdam. That was in 2009. I can’t remember if I said “No thanks, maybe next time” or if the concert was already sold out at that time and I couldn’t go anyway. What I do know is that this particular friend managed to get a ticket for that show in 2009 a couple of days before the show via the Internet, went to see him and was completely blown away. So when I read a couple of months ago that Joe Bonamassa would return to Carré on November 7th of this year, I didn’t hesitate and made sure I was going to be there this time, together with this friend I mentioned earlier.

    Read on at my blog: click here
  • Revisited: Dream Theater's Images and Words 15th Anniversary Performance

    5. Okt. 2008, 14:36

    When I picked up my mail from my mailbox last Friday I was pleasantly surprised to find a package from Voices UK, the UK based Dream Theater fanclub. Since the previous issue was sent to me more than a year ago I thought that they had stopped existing or had totally forgotten about me.

    As soon as I stepped into my apartment I ripped open the envelope and I found a brand new fanclub CD inside and the new issue or the fanzine. When I checked the label of the CD I just could not believe my eyes. The CD contained the 15th anniversary performance of the Images and Words album which I attended last year in Bonn, Germany. I jumped for joy! Wow! Fantastic! What a great souvenir of this fantastic concert!

    Because it was already late I decided to give the CD a spin on Saturday. I played it at concert sound level and I loved it from start to finish! The sound quality of this fanclub CD is great and the performance is very good, just as I described last year in my review of the event.

    What a great way to start the weekend!
  • My First Thoughts on the New Last.fm Beta Site

    26. Mai. 2008, 21:33

    Last week Last.fm announced the next version of the site which is currently in beta. Since I am a subscriber to Last.fm I have the privilege of browsing new beta version of the Last.fm site.

    I have browsed through the site for an hour or so and my first feelings are quite positive. The artist pages look better and more informative and structured. The profile pages of the Last.fm users have changed drastically too.

    My first thoughts on the restyle of the profile pages are mixed. I took the time to write some feedback and post it using the yellow feedback bar that can be found at the top of every page on the beta site.

    I thought it would be nice to share my thoughts in my journal here. Below you will find the comments I sent to the Last.fm staff.

    Do you agree with me or not? Feel free to leave a comment!

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Hi guys!

    The new Last.fm site is pretty nice. Here are my current feelings about the profile page.

    -- The real-time stats are the best invention since sliced bread! A great improvement! Thanks for that, guys!

    -- The library is very cool too. Being able to inspect all the tracks I have scrobbled in the past is very nice and gives a good insight on all the stuff I listened to.

    -- It would be nice to put the Top Artists and Top Tracks back to the top of the page below the Recently Listened Tracks. I look up this information the most on my profile page.

    -- What I really miss on the Profile page are the Recent Visitors. They are only visible now on the Home (previously Dashboard?) page, which I visit rarely. Now I would have to go to this page only to check out my visitors.

    -- I am not sure yet if I like the new Shoutbox position on the bottom of the page. Sure, you have more room there, but I am so used to check my recent shouts on the top-right that this is major change in the navigation of the profile page. Including the shortcut/link to my shouts to the right of my profile picture is a neat idea though and useful. I would prefer to see the last 5 shouts on the right side of the page below the music player, just as in the current lay-out of the Profile page.

    -- I miss the artwork to the left of the Recently Listened Tracks and the Top Artists chart. I really, really like(d) that feature! I guess you have left it out on the new site to get a better performance as a whole.

    I will be keeping an eye on the beta pages and will add my feedback whenever I can come up with something or have any ideas.

    Best wishes,
    Theo
  • Review: Jean-Michel Jarre Celebrates 30th Anniversary of Oxygene with Tour

    1. Apr. 2008, 19:28

    25 March: Jean-Michel Jarre - Royal Theatre Carré

    The moment I saw that tickets where going to be on sale for the 30th anniversary tour of Jean-Michel Jarre's Oxygene album, my heart skipped a beat! And the venue that he chose to play this piece of music surprised me even more. Royal Theatre Carré is not a very big venue, which is a big contrast with the enormous outdoor events that mister Jarre conceived in the past. So this was really too good to be true! A friend of mine even managed to get tickets for the third row as counted from the stage. (Kudos to Mosphat!)

    The view we had on the stage was very impressive with a large amount of old, vintage synthesizers in front of us, centered around four performers in total. Mister Jarre of course stood in the center of the stage, completely surrounded with keyboards, synths and organs. Lots of the instruments were at least 30 years old or more. During the short introduction speech, Jean-Michel told the audience that all of these old instruments needed to be handled like "old ladies". Each instrument needed to be tuned separately, which the performers did live in front of the audience. Can you believe this? Unforgettable!

    The concert was really great! It was even better than I had expected it to be. Jean-Michel Jarre and his fellow musicians played the whole new Oxygene album (including the Prelude and the Variations) and some parts of the Part Two album. The light show was modest but very nicely done. After about fifteen minutes a large mirror was lowered from the ceiling of the venue and tilted for about 45 degrees so the audience could watch the whole spectacle from above in the mirror. Very cool to say the least! After about an hour a projector was turned which played a 3D CGI movie of the skull-in-earth logo from the Oxygene album. It's a little bit weird (maybe even a bit morbid) to watch a movie in the background where you very gently fly through the socket of one eye and leave the skull through the other eye socket...!

    All in all it was a great experience to see and hear Jean-Michel Jarre in a venue like this, performing one of his masterpieces. Afterwards I could not resist buying the new CD/DVD reissue of the Oxygene album. The CD contains a rerecorded version of the Oxygene album, using all his old, vintage instruments but recorded using the latest recording technologies. The DVD contains "Oxygene Live in Your Living Room", which is almost the same performance as we saw live. Which is great actually and brings the memory of the concert to life again! The DVD also contains a 5.1 surround mix of the new Oxygene album and a bonus feature where Jean-Michel Jarre introduces all the synthesizers used for the recording and the live performance.

    Marvelous!
  • Twitter Is Useless... But I Like It!

    19. Jan. 2008, 21:33

    Sometimes someone has an idea for a website that at first glance looks incredibly useless and stupid. Take for example Twitter. What is the point of posting messages that may not exceed the number of 140 characters? I asked that question myself numerous times.

    The first time I heard about Twitter was at the Adobe Live 2007 event. A couple of presenters took a sidestep in their presentations, briefly talking about Twitter, showing the site to the audience, and telling them how excited they were about it. When I looked at it I thought: "You got to be kidding me!"

    A couple of months later I decided to give it a go myself and mailed a link to the website to a couple of close friends and colleagues to get them involved in my experiment. Now it's three months later and I'm beginning to love it more and more!

    I'm beginning to realize that Twittering (or Micro-blogging) is more interesting for me than blogging. It takes far less time and because of the short message length you are forced to get your message across in only a few words or short sentences. That can be a challenge sometime, but it is also fun to do. Especially when you have a couple of friends that you can follow and join you on Twitter.

    Okay, enough about my experiences with Twitter! I am curious about your opinions now! Leave me a comment on this journal if you like. And if you're interested you can follow my Twitter stream.

    Tip for Firefox users: if you like Twitter then you will definitely like the Firefox add-on TwitterFox!
  • CD Review: Moongarden Opens the Gates to Great Music

    2. Dez. 2007, 14:36

    CD Review: Moongarden- The Gates of Omega

    As you could have read in one of my previous journal entries I was having quite some trouble getting Moongarden's album "Round Midnight". Because I got a gift coupon for my favorite local record store I decided to let them try and get an other album of this great band called "The Gates of Omega".

    This almost turned out to become a disaster! It took them more than two months to get a hold of a copy. But the good news is that they did succeed! And I am a happy camper now! :-)

    Man, what a great album this is! It's got atmosphere, great musicians, great songs (and some of them are very long!) and last but not least: lots of great fretless bass! :-)

    It's hard to compare the style of this band to other bands. When I listen to "The Gates of Omega" I hear Pink Floyd and Marillion somewhere in the distance, but on the other hand it is totally different. What I like about Moongarden are their chord progressions and arrangements. They are very elaborate and you won't hear them on your average hit radio station: many, many chords with the most beautiful solos on top of them, played marvelously by the guitar player.

    An other thing I like very much are the keyboard sounds. Lots of mellotron and hammond can be heard on Moongarden's albums and that's simply great.

    You can check out Moongarden's official website here:
    http://www.marcotafelli.com/moongardensite/index1.htm

    Don't be surprised if you'll see this band in my weekly top ten list for the following weeks! ;-)
  • CD Review: The Sum of Too Much Flower Kings

    22. Okt. 2007, 20:10

    CD Review: The Flower Kings - The Sum of No Evil

    Yep, this record is definitely Flower Kings! The fantastic guitar playing, the great keyboard sounds, the magnificent bass chops, it's all there!

    There is only one problem: it's too much. Far too much! At least in my humble opinion. One epic song I can handle, but not four. It's just too much prog, too bombastic, arranged too death with yet another section added and another section, and another. Structure is totally lost at some places. It's just too much.

    The previous record (Paradox Hotel) is so much better than this release. It's much more balanced, has more shorter compositions and more real songs. And the long tracks are still great tracks with more balance and more structure, less chaotic, more great melodies and hooks, reprises of themes, etcetera.

    The best tracks on "The Sum of No Evil" are track 1 and track 6. And to be more specific: the first half of track 1 and the second half of track 6. Especially that last part is marvelous and classic Flower Kings!! I saw them performing this track live at Symforce and loved it immediatley from the first time I heard it.

    If you plan to buy "The Sum of No Evil", than you really should go for the Limited Edition. Why? Because the best tracks are on the second disc! I really love them, and it's a pity they did not fit on the first disc. That is why I give this release 3,5 stars instead of 3 stars.

    Nevertheless I'll be looking forward to seeing TFK live again this November. They are still one of the greatest live acts around and every live performance is a treat!

    Let's hope the next album will be better... ;-)
  • Best Order Confirmation Message Ever

    28. Jul. 2007, 23:27

    Yesterday I ordered the CD "Round Midnight" from an Italian band called Moongarden. I can recommend this band to anyone who likes progressive rock in the style of bands like MARILION and Carptree.

    I started looking for the album at the web stores I usually visit when I order albums on the Internet, but I had a hard time finding it. In the end I had to use Google to find a site that had the album in stock. The search led me to a site called CD Baby where I could finally place my order.

    Today I received an e-mail from CD Baby to confirm that my order has been dispatched. While reading the message I almost fell from my chair with laughter! This is by far the most amusing order confirmation I have ever received in my life!

    For your reading pleasure I have included the mail in this journal entry.

    Enjoy!

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

    A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

    Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

    We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved "Bon Voyage!" to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Saturday, July 28th.

    I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as "Customer of the Year." We're all exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Sigh...

    --
    Derek Sivers, president, CD Baby
    the little store with the best new independent music
  • Review: Porcupine Tree Performs Latest Album and More

    1. Jul. 2007, 0:48

    28 June: Porcupine Tree (support: Pure Reason Revolution) - Melkweg

    My first introduction to Porcupine Tree was the album "Stupid Dream". I read a raving review about the album in a Dream Theater fan club magazine and got interested in the band. After listening to a couple of tracks in the record store I decided to give the album a try and bought it. I would never have thought that now, eight years later, I would be sitting here writing a review for one of their concerts.

    I saw Porcupine Tree earlier once, also in Amsterdam in Paradiso, and they played perfectly that evening. The DVD "Arriving Somewhere..." is a nice memory of this concert for me. You can imagine I was really looking forward to this concert.

    And what a hell of a concert it was! What a terrific show! The band played absolutely great and the sound was fantastic! It was pretty loud, but it never got annoying (at least where I was standing in the venue).

    The band started with the first track of their latest album which are both titled "Fear of a Blank Planet": a reference to Public Enemy's "Fear of a Black Planet". (Read more about this on Wikipedia). The music was accompanied by video that was projected on a large screen behind the band. This screen was as wide as the whole stage. The images fitted to the music perfectly and added tremendously to the experience.

    After the first song, Steven Wilson announced that they would play the whole new album with a couple of songs from earlier albums thrown in between. This announcement was applauded by the audience of course. :) Every song was performed perfectly, just as I had expected actually. Not that the performance was too clinical or polished: on the contrary! The band rocked big time, full of emotion. I enjoyed every minute of it! Highlights of the show for me were "Anesthetize", "Gravity Eyelids" and two of the encores: "Even Less" and "Halo".

    Finally I would like to give kudos to the support act: Pure Reason Revolution. This was the second time I saw this young band live and they were great. This time they played a couple of songs from their future album too. I had to get used to the new material, but that was also the case with their first album "The Dark Third", which grew on me gradually with each listen. Can't wait for the new album to be released. They certainly wet my appetite!
  • Review: Dream Theater Celebrates 15 Years Images & Words

    17. Jun. 2007, 21:46

    16 June: Dream Theater (support: Riverside) - Museumsmeile

    Finally I have recuperated from my trip to Bonn, which is almost a 4 hour drive from the place where I live. Yesterday a friend of mine and myself had the privilege to see a very special Dream Theater live show. When we took of on Saturday morning to Bonn we did not have the slightest idea what would happen during that show. I can tell you I was flabbergasted and extremely happy that I was there to experience it!

    But what am I talking about here? I think the people that were there and the biggest Dream Theater fans know what I am talking about. To celebrate the fact that "Images & Words" was released 15 years ago, the band played the whole album from start to finish! This was so extremely cool!!!

    Overall the concert was great. The band played great and James was able to sing almost every high note from "Images & Words". Every time I get to see Dream Theater play I am very excited and totally amazed by the way they can make playing all this technical stuff seem like a walk in the park. Absolutely incredible!

    I can only think of two (very small) minor points of the show. First the sound: the quality of the mix depended very strongly on the position you were standing in the crowd. It took us quite a while to find the best spot, but when we reached that spot the mix the band sounded fantastic! Of course the band or sound guys can't do a thing about this. They did a great job!

    Second: we did not get to hear "In the Presence of Enemies" or "The Dark Eternal Night". The last song is my absolute favorite track from the "Systematic Chaos". But hey: I won't complain! This show was very, very special to me and we can't have it all, can we? :)

    You can find the complete setlist of the show here.

    Of course this review would not be complete without mentioning the support act: Riverside. The band really surprised me in a very positive way. I heard a couple of their songs from their first and second album and thought the songs were decent. But seeing them perform the material live gave it a new dimension. These guys are really great musicians and they gave I nice show. After the concert I bought Riverside's second album "Second Life Syndrome". Great stuff, guys!