Maxïmo Park at Melkweg Oude Zaal, Friday 22 September 2017

Knowing how much fun I had seeing Maxïmo Park last time, I was looking forward to Friday’s gig.

The early evening was a bit rushed for $REASONS. I missed my bus and had to cycle in to Amsterdam. Fortunately it was a lovely evening. I didn’t get to Melkweg in time to see local band Yasmine‘s support act, but their EP Honey wasn’t setting my world on fire, so I didn’t mind. Maxïmo Park, however, were wonderful. Paul Smith has such great energy on stage, and looked like he was having a great time. The crowd were warm and loud, and excited to be there to see them. Unexpectedly emotional stand-out songs for me this time were socialist anthem “Work And Then Wait”, and “Risk To Exist”, the title track from their new album, which I hadn’t realized was actually about refugees crossing the Mediterranean to Europe.

  1. What Did We Do To You To Deserve This
  2. Risk To Exist
  3. I Want You To Stay
  4. Books From Boxes
  5. Brain Cells
  6. Questing, Not Coasting
  7. Work And Then Wait
  8. The Hero
  9. The National Health
  10. Going Missing
  11. This Is What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted
  12. The Reason I Am Here
  13. Our Velocity
  14. What Equals Love?
  15. By The Monument
  16. Girls Who Play Guitar

Encore:

  1. Nosebleed
  2. Get High (No I Don’t)
  3. Apply Some Pressure

I also got myself a gorgeous screen printed tour poster and a spiffy T-shirt. My colleagues have been commenting that the posters on my office wall (which they see in the background of every video chat) haven’t changed much recently, so it’s time to mix it up a bit.

Marianas Trench at Tolhuistuin (Paradiso Noord), Thursday 18 May 2017

This gig had originally been scheduled for 11 October 2016, but was postponed because Josh Ramsey’s came down with laryngitis. When they started playing “Astoria” I was concerned about how this one was going to turn out, because his voice sounded rough and shaky. He warmed up quickly in the first two numbers, and was fine after that. Much jumping and prancing. Fiona had been quite shaky herself that day, and only decided to come along with me at the last minute. She made it all the way through the gig, though, and we had a good time. (As part of the inevitable merch haul, I got another signed drum head. Is this a thing that bands do now? If so, I’m totally fine with it.)

Set list:

  • Astoria
  • Yesterday
  • Celebrity Status
  • Burning Up
  • All To Myself
  • Here’s To The Zeroes
  • One Love
  • This Means War
  • Desperate Measures
  • Fallout
  • Stutter
  • Pop 101
  • Who Do You Love
  • Cross My Heart
  • Good To You
  • Haven’t Had Enough
  • End Of An Era

The Naked And Famous at Tivoli Vredenburg, Friday 10 February 2017

They’re not a particularly dynamic or interactive band on stage, but it was nice to hear them play their songs. I particularly liked them playing “The Source” and “The Sun”, because I hadn’t expected them to break out downbeat tracks like that in a concert. Their rendition of “No Way” was a surprise. On the recording the slow and quiet verses are punctuated by interludes of heavy drums and guitars. On stage, they held the drums and guitars at bay for the first of those waves, leaving only a modest piano dropping individual notes. When the drums and guitars did come in on the next pass, they crashed down like waves in a storm.

Another thing I hadn’t expected was the extent to which Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith share centre stage. Whenever I think of The Naked And Famous, it’s Alisa’s voice I hear. But Thom sings on a lot more of their songs than I had given him credit for.

Set list:

  1. The Water Beneath You
  2. Higher
  3. All Of This
  4. Punching In A Dream
  5. Golden Girl/Roilling Waves
  6. The Source/The Sun
  7. I Kill Giants
  8. Losing Our Control
  9. A Stillness
  10. Hearts Like Ours
  11. No Way
  12. Laid Low
  13. Girls Like You
  14. Young Blood

Encore:

  1. Last Forever
  2. Rotten

Sabaton at AFAS Live, Sunday 29 January 2017

Just as I don’t go to many hip-hop gigs, I don’t go to many metal gigs, either. In fact…I can’t think of any. The closest I’ve got to metal is Rush, and which is hard rock, but not metal. So I wasn’t really sure what to expect at a Sabaton gig, other than some very loud music about war and heroic violence. Fiona is into them, and had played me some of their songs, but my response is kinda “meh”.

Since we were last there to see The Lumineers in November, the Heineken Music Hall has rebranded itself as AFAS Live (sponsored by AFAS software). The vibe around the venue was excellent, and the merch stand had more T-shirts than you could shake a stick at. I wonder if this is a cultural thing for metal concerts? I’d say that about half of the people in the audience were wearing Sabaton gear of some kind — a far greater percentage of people than I normally see wearing a band’s merch. I suggested that Fiona should have been wearing her black lipstick, and she rolled her eyes at me.

I’ve taken Fiona to a few concerts over the last couple of years, but this was the first time I felt felt like a stereotypical Concert Dad. The mood in the crowd was happy, but I felt cautious about being too close to the front and centre in case we got caught in a mosh. I tensed up whenever a half-empty plastic beer cup would fly overhead and shower us with malty rain. I don’t think Fiona felt entirely at ease, either.

The first opening act, Twilight Force was an over-the-top power-metal excursion into epic fantasy, and we both loved them. The second opener was Accept, who played for a whole hour. We left the hall after a few songs, though, because they were really loud and also kinda boring. By the time Sabaton finally came on at 21:30, we had already been standing around for about two and a half hours, and we were starting to feel tired. (Again, is this a metal thing, having multiple warm-up acts that play really long sets?) We listened for an hour, but left before the end. Fiona was exhausted, as was I. This was one of the loudest gigs I have ever been to. Even without standing directly in front of a speaker stack, and even though we were both wearing ear plugs, my ears were gummy and ringing as we left the venue.

One advantage of leaving early is that we had no delay in exiting the car park under the Arena, which is usually a massive bottleneck.

Overall: I think they put on a great show. The set dressing was amazing, and the band were having tons of fun romping around on stage and feeding off the energy of the adoring crowd. I don’t think I would go again, because their actual music still leaves me cold. But if you enjoy Sabaton, I’m sure you would love seeing them live.

2016 Concerts

My rule of live music used to be “Never miss an opportunity to see your favourite band, because you never know when they will split up, or die.” But despite 2016 being quite brutal in terms of big name musicians signing off, I’m going to be more discerning from now. 2016 was peak gig for me. Seeing 19 concerts at 12 different venues in such a short span of time (yeah, a year is short) has taught me a lot about what I like and what I don’t like in a concert.

And that’s okay. Going out to see live music should just be fun.

  1. 5 February 2016: Imagine Dragons at Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam
  2. 11 February 2016: Wolf Alice at Paradiso, Amsterdam
  3. 26 February 2016: Halsey at Melkweg, Amsterdam
  4. 2 May 2016: Melanie Martinez at Melkweg, Amsterdam
  5. 9 May 2016: The Joy Formidable at The Liquid Room, Edinburgh
  6. 20 May 2016: Bleached at Bitterzoet, Amsterdam
  7. 21 May 2016: The Heavy at Melkweg, Amsterdam
  8. 30 May 2016: Garbage at Paradiso, Amsterdam
  9. 20 July 2016: Area 11 at The Mash House, Edinburgh
  10. 9 August 2016: Indigo Girls at Mountain Winery, Saratoga
  11. 12 August 2016: Lindsey Stirling at Mountain Winery, Saratoga
  12. 11 October 2016: Marianas Trench at Tolhuistuin, Amsterdam Cancelled (postponed?)
  13. 26 October 2016: Passenger at Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam
  14. 7 November 2016: The Lumineers at Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam
  15. 11 November 2016: 65daysofstatic at Poppodium Q-Factory, Amsterdam
  16. 16 November 2016: Bastille at Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam
  17. 28 November 2016: Frightened Rabbit at Tolhuistuin, Amsterdam
  18. 3 December 2016: Deacon Blue at AECC, Aberdeen
  19. 15 December 2016: The Cool Quest at Melkweg, Amsterdam
  20. 18 December 2016: Talib Kweli at Bitterzoet, Amsterdam

My favourites: Area 11, The Cool Quest, 65daysofstatic. Would go and see them again any time.

Wolf Alice, The Heavy, Garbage, Frightened Rabbit, The Joy Formidable: would go and see them again if the venue was right.

Venues: Paradiso is still the best. Ziggo Dome: avoid when possible. AECC in Aberdeen: not even once.