Table of Contents
2. The Trip
3. The Gig
3.1 Damian Wilson
3.2 Stream Of Passion
3.3 Meet And Greet
London! A beautiful city I didn't think I would visit so soon. And most definitely I couldn't have imagined that the reason for going to London is a small concert at the London club called The Borderline.
However, it happened to be a special kind of concert for me. For various reasons, back in 2002 I missed Arjen Lucassen and Star One on tour, mostly because the shows were too far and the trip would have been too expensive for me. Later, after I had seen that tour on the "Live on Earth" DVD, I sort of gave myself a word that next time Arjen will be on tour I'll do anything in my powers to see at least one show. Firstly, because the gig recorded was an awesome. Secondly, because Arjen is one of my favourite musicians whose work I treasure. When I heard about Stream Of Passion going on tour, I knew that the day had come.
I chose to attend London concert because it was the most accessible one. Other gigs didn't have a direct flight connection with Tallinn and buses weren't really an option for long distances. For a fast trip you need to fly. So, I tried to gather friends to go with me. The idea did catch fire at first but in the end there were only two of us: me and one of my dear friends who, by the way, had a birthday on the very day of the gig.
2. The trip
The gig was on Sunday and that left us with a weekend in London. We arrived at Gatwick airport at about 5 pm and were in London at Victoria Station an hour or so later. Having ogled a bit at the immediate vicinity of Victoria Station and at left-sided traffic, we set out to find our hotel, Lords, on the other side of Hyde Park. A bit more than an hour of walking did it.
We spent the evening strolling in the immediate vicinity of the hotel in Notting Hill. The next morning we set off to find one of the places in London for music fans: the Abbey Road crossing. We set out on foot because this way you get to see more of the immediate life on the streets and because, for some obscure reason, it was sunny day in London. The whole day we walked around London, eyes wide, enjoying the city and scenery: from Abbey Road, Regent's Park and Baker Street to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace. In the end we walked from the far corner of Hyde Park to the Tower Bridge and back. In one day. As I later calculated, it made a 20 mile round trip! But we did get to see the places. It was a weird feeling to be there and see what you usually get to see in the pictures. Totally awesome city!
3. The gig
The Borderline is a small club located in a street you may not even find on a large-scale map, just around two corners from London Astoria. The venue is small with a rather low ceiling; for 200, maybe 300 people. And at first I wasn't over excited by it. My enthusiasm was lessened since, for no apparent reason, the club closed its cloakroom and everybody had to keep their coats, either on or in hands. But it was a minor detail in the end.
3.1 Damian Wilson
Damian Wilson is well known for people who have been listening to Ayreon or Threshold. Not only is he a great singer but, as it turned out, he's a hell of a good performer. He was supposed to start at 8 pm but he got on stage with an acoustic guitar more than a quarter of an hour earlier, talking to the crowd "I'm going to start early, anybody mind?" or something in the similar fashion. It all gave the impression of some really small, cozy, bar gig.
Damian's music is mostly acoustic to begin with but this time he was only from time to time supported by keyboards. What was interesting though, is the fact that almost the whole set was performed with his brother Paul Wilson. Together they sung most of the songs and were obviously enjoying it.
It all felt quite impromptu, sort of like a singing by the fire. Damian got a very good contact with the crowd with his open attitude and little jokes. "Do you all know me? - Yes! - Do you all know this song? - Yes!! - Do you want to sing along? - No!!!" or "You're all quiet tonight? - We have beers in our hand! - Typical British!" or "I'm hearing something. I don't know if it is insults!" This warm open talking with the crowd in between the songs from his two solo albums "Cosmas" and "Disciple" created a very relaxed atmosphere. He not only got the crowd laughing and enjoy the show, he got people singing along "Homegrown."
Since I don't know his music by heart and only recognized the songs as being known and familiar, I must thank Heather from Ayreon mailing list for giving me the setlist.
01. She's Like A Fable
02. I Want To Build My World
03. Please Don't Leave Me Till I Leave You
04. Part Of Me
05. One Life
07. Just The Way It Goes
08. When I Leave This Land
09. Nothing Left In Me
Damian enjoyed his performance very much and was quite reluctant to leave the stage. He did really well as an opening act.
3.2 Stream Of Passion
Stream Of Passion
After little set-up the main act, Stream Of Passion, emerged on stage one by one accompanied by background music: first Davy Mickers, the drummer; then Johan van Stratum on bass with Alejandro Millan on keyboards; then Marcela and Diana Bovio, the singers; and finally Arjen Lucassen and Lori Linstruth with guitars. That's a lot considering the small size of the stage.
The show was kicked off with two opening tracks of the "Embrace the Storm" album, namely "Spellbound" and "Passion." From the first moments it was clear that the band has come on stage not only to perform the songs but also to enjoy performing them. The small stage turned out to be no obstacle, for the band found room to move on stage with the music.
Although Stream Of Passion mostly consists of young talents besides Arjen, together it seems to be a tight unit that performs live even better than on the album. I don't know if it is because some of them haven't had the chance to be on stage and/or before big crowds often, but they all radiated the fresh joy of performing. It was pretty rewarding moment to see Lori finish up her solo at the end of one song, smiling and eyes gleaming ecstatically.
I would say that the main focus of the band is singer Marcela backed by her younger sister Diana. Nevertheless, the versatile music offered moments for everybody. Alejandro did great supporting singers with piano on beautiful and emotional "Nostalgia." Lori shined through her numerous solos. It was great to see her play live, fast fingers crawling up and down the neck of guitar. Although the big name behind the band is Arjen, he was more laid back, but that does not mean he was in the shadow, he enjoyed the music and did a couple of solos of his own. Maybe less immediate were the performance of Johan and Davy. Johan was quite often the focus with his pretty aggressive movements with the music but I don't remember him or Davy having a special solo spot as such. That said the two of them form a strong backbone to the music and were well heard throughout the show.
It was known beforehand that half of the setlist would include reworked Ayreon songs. However, a real surprise was to discover which ones, and some surprise it was in some cases. A warm feeling came over me when the opening chords of "Computer Eyes" began. This was something special. It's an amazing feeling to hear the song that you've known for years and years finally performed live. Another great surprise was "Valley Of The Queens," the original being practically acoustic, sung by Anneke van Giersbergen of The Gathering and accompanied by flute. This however was totally different, I wouldn't have imagined that they would make a heavy version out of it and do it with success. Same applies for "The Charm of the Seer" which I had difficulties recognizing even though I knew the tunes. A worthy note is "Castle Hall" and "Into the Black Hole" for which Damian emerged to sing with Marcela and Diana. During the first encore the cover of Led Zeppelin "When the Levee Breaks" was performed, considerably faster and heavier but still rocking.
Marcela Bovio and Damian Wilson
Sound-wise I was content with The Borderline and the gig. Being pretty used to local Estonian concerts that are often too loud and unbalanced, especially at small venues, I was a bit skeptical before the gig. But eventually I got to enjoy the well tuned sound, I could hear every single instrument and vocals well. I still admit it was a bit loud for my taste but it wasn't deafening experience. So, I must bow to the crew for delivering the sound well. Visual experience was maybe a bit spoiled by the small and low room. I think the performance would have benefited from higher ceiling and better focus on the band. But in given circumstances it was good.
04. Wherever You Are
05. Computer Eyes
07. Valley Of The Queens (heavy version)
09. The Charm Of The Seer (heavy version)
10a. Songs Of The Ocean
11. Day 1: Vigil
12. Day 3: Pain
14. Out In The Real World
15. Castle Hall (With Damian Wilson)
16. Into The Black Hole (with Damian Wilson)
16a. Cold Metal
17. When The Levee Breaks (Led Zeppelin cover)
18. Day 11: Love
In conclusion I can say that the show was awesome. Small place that The Borderline is, it offered a compact atmosphere that sparkled a good contact with the crowd. People were singing along whenever possible and jumping and head banging. I can only sum up with Marcela's answer that I got after the show. The European crowds in comparison to the Latin audience have pleasantly surprised her and have not been the quiet audience she expected.
3.3 Meet and greet
The band emerged after the show for a specially arranged meet and greet. And there sure were many people who wanted to get autographs. Most of the people queued for Arjen and Marcela. I got to talk to some of the other band members. Davy, cool and relaxed guy that he is was very satisfied with the gig. He too was shaken by the smallness of the place but it turned out to be great after all. Marcela, Lori and Arjen were all content with the result. And as I mentioned it was great to hear feedback from Marcela about the crowd, as that was exciting matter back when I got to interview her in December.
The trip back to our hotel was uneventful as much of the Monday was when we had to fly back. I was reluctant to leave London. This city made a fascinating impression on me and this trip has been one memorable experience. I would like to thank Chris from Ayreon message board and mailing list for some help concerning London.
I admit my opinion might be biased but this single evening was really great and a special event of my life. I want to thank all the performers for the wonderful evening: Damian and Paul Wilson, Marcela, Diana, Alejandro, Johan, Lori, Davy and Arjen. Seems that passion for music helps me discover the world, I wasn't planning a trip to London for yet another couple of years!
But it all wouldn't have happened without my dear friend Helme. I doubt I'd have done this trip without her. Thank you!
Since I was using a film camera and I'm not yet good with this stuff then most of my pictures didn't turn out right. You'll have to excuse me and be content with what there is.
Written on 06.02.2006 by
I shoot people.
Sometimes, I also write about it.