Report by Miriam C.
Thanks to his numerous music projects, Arjen Lucassen is still nowadays considered as one of the main International artists devoted to the progressive metal genre. The most important one is surely the one concerning Ayreon, but at the same time he is one of the most shyest musicians in performing live on stage. The important announcement he made quite a long time ago concerning his music project, The Gentle Storm, in which he also announced the patecipation of the beautiful Anneke Van Giersbergen has aroused people’s curiosity, but at the same time this magnificent artist has confirmed that he also wanted to take part in this new experience that has given him a new chance to get on tour again. Of course Italy has accommodated this amazing duo for three special gigs in Rome, Milan and Bologna and tonight we had the chance to attend the latest Italian date at the Locomotiv Club, that is a still unknown venue in the Northern part of the country but that lately is offering such an important musical bill.
The opening act of the night is the Italian band called Rain: I have to say that I’ve never had the chance to delve into their music, but from the very beginning of its set, I can notice how valuable this combo is. During the course of its 30 minutes, this quartet has offered an acoustic version of its best songs, without losing its mordent and trying to entertain the audience effectively. Even thought the quartet – formed by the vocalist/guitarist Amedeo Mongiorgi, the guitar player Amos Amorati, the bass player Gabriele Ravaglia and the drummer Andrea Fedrezzoni – “orphaned” of the singer Mantis Le Sen, it was able to entertain a still audience, trying to involve every single fan in the room in more than one occasion and playing both some famous songs and some cover as well, like “A Hard Day’s Night” by Beatles. The singer Amedeo Mongiorgi managed to give such a incredible performance, especially on “Mexican Way”, a track taken from the latest record of the band that was performance in a very country/rockabilly version. Unfortunately the time for these guys has running over so very fast, but we really hope to see this quartet live in their natural atmosphere.
Seeing Arjen Lucassen on tour is surely one of those music historical events that will most probably never ever happen again in the future. The idea of performing unplugged may indeed frighten all the people out there, but two great artists like Lucassen and Van Giersbergen have the gift of being able to embrace their audience with their warmth like they played with a real full band. It’s up to “Beautiful One” to start off : it was indeed a very good choice, Anneke takes up her guitar and, focused on her performance despite a little throat infection as she revealed in the interview you will read soon, she manages to deliver a very special moment with the fans. After the interpretation of “4 Years” by Lorrainville, Anneke’s parallel project, the audience shows how much is excited and it sings along with the Dutch artist as soon as she introduces “Wicked Game”, Chris Isaak’s hit. Between the applause and standing ovations, especially by the girls of the front row, the show goes on with “Circles”, another track taken from Anneke’s solo career, and Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire”. How could you resist without singing out loud a song like “Locked Away” by The Gathering and “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd? It’s basically impossible to say “No” and with this combination of songs, the first set comes to an end. Just a couple of seconds separate us from the entry of the Master, Arjen Lucassen, who is visibly frightened by what he is going to present in the company of his partner of the stage, cracks a smile and picks up his acoustic guitar, proposing some various songs taken from both his long music career and from his creature, Ayreon. Worthy of mention are indeed “Isis And Osiris”, “Comatose”, that sees for this occasion Mr Lucassen singing with a lot of dedication, “Valley of the Queen” sees as a special guest star Ancient Bards’s frontwoman Sara Squadrani and the emotional “Garden of Emotions”. As the tradition wants, there’s also the “karaoke moment”: in this set the duo presents “Mad World”, Donnie Darko’s soundtrack, and “Strange Machines”.
I know it will be kinda strange, but the audience that is attending the show is quite varied: indeed, it’s quite easy to find people around 20-50 years old, accompanied by their own families and this makes everything more challenging. It’s kinda hard to believe in, but Mr Lucassen and Mrs Van Giersbergen are what we could label as “failed comidians”, since between a break and another, these two artists were able to perform some funny sketch as well; over the years, these musicians were also able to build a very strong friendly relationship, aside of a great musical partnership: we can not mention the moment in which the Dutch maestro wanted to help the Italian audience in the difficult task of pronouncing Anneke’s surname correctly. It was highly unexpected to see how many people have attended this particular show, since that the duo had the chance to perform both in Rome and Milan a few days earlier. As usual and as the main male Dutch artist has acknowledged, the polistrumentalist is not a “stage beast”, disclosing a kinda discomfort in performing live on stage, but we’re happy to announce that Mr Lucassen has what it takes in order to be considered a 360 degrees artist!
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