Quantum Fantay & Lazuli
May 29, 2010 - De Pul, Uden (NL)
The live review of these two bands should have been placed on our website at the end of November 2009. But at the time, the live presentations of French headliner Lazuli and Belgian support-act Quantum Fantay were cancelled in consequence of some personal problems concerning the members of Lazuli. Three members left the band and the other three, Gédéric Byar and the brothers Claude and Dominique Leonetti had to recruit new musicians to get the band ready for playing live on stage. With keyboardist Romain Thorel and drummer Vincent Barnavol they found great musicians to keep the fire burning. However, Lazuli were not the only band that went through line-up changes. Compared to the last time I saw Quantum Fantay perform live, flute-player Charles Sla had left the band after their latest release Kaleidothrope (see review). The other members had been looking for replacement, but so far they didn't find someone suitable. But anyway, the people who attended this postponed concert witnessed two acts that by no means play traditional progressive rock music.
Quantum FantayCertainly, Quantum Fantay has been influenced by some progressive rock bands as well, but their musical style can be described best as space rock in the tradition of Hawkwind and Ozric Tentacles. Especially the influences of the Ozrics can be heard on their albums, but I'm not sure if this will also be the case on their forthcoming album Bridges From Kukeriku, because that one might be recorded without a flutist. This instrument is the main link between both bands. However, it surprised me that I didn't miss Charles Sla that much demonstrated best by the opening tune The Spirit from Kaleidothrope. The band sounded very tight with an awesome groove. The four musicians must have practiced a lot, I guess, to make the music sounding so well without Charles Sla. Bravo! However, it was a pity that during the first part of the set the sound of guitarist Dario Frodo got a bad mix. It should have been up front in the mix, but it didn't. Maybe this was caused by the sound technician who seemed to be unfamiliar with the music of the band. Fortunately, the rhythm section sounded great, just like it had to be. Jaro's bass guitar made a very pleasant sound and drummer Gino Bertolini can easily be heard even without microphones! Recently, the owner of the Blues Café in Apeldoorn told him that he played much too loud, but you can't blame him. How can you play motivated, if you can't give everything you have? I for one didn't care at all. It's just the way I like him to play. For me Gino is one of the best Belgian drummers.
Quantum Fantay played a selection from their three studio albums. However, the band played some new pieces from their forthcoming release as well: Kukeriku and Counterclockwise. We could hear several Arabian musical sounds in these pieces. Dario Frodo gets more room after every new album to show his excellent solos, but most of the music is dominated by Pete Mush's keyboards. Like a real Rick Wakeman or Keith Emerson he stands behind the instruments, although he has nothing in common with these keyboard wizards music wise. Pete makes his synthesizers sound as if they come from another planet. The band may look back at a very strong performance and they once again showed that they'd grown to a very good live unit nowadays.
LazuliI saw Lazuli a couple of times before and they always prove to be a good live unit as well, although their repertoire not always feed my hunger for great prog music. That doesn't mean that they're bad musicians, on the contrary. Lazuli perform a very original kind of music that can hardly be labeled. You might call it world music with influences taken from progressive rock, but also from French chansons. The music is dominated by the Léode, an instrument designed and created by Claude Leonetti after having a traffic accident. He no longer could use his left arm in a proper way and thus he made a kind of Chapman-stick sounding like a blend between a musical saw, an electric guitar and a synthesizer. Singer Dominique plays a large role as well as far as the sound of the band is concerned. His voice in particular is responsible for the recognizability of Lazuli's music. He sings very emotionally in his native tongue with a great vocal range and above all, he's a real entertainer on stage.
Right from the start Dominique tried to speak Dutch from a piece of paper. He welcomed the audience with the words 'goedenavond' which means 'good evening'. Also his 'thank you's' were sometimes in Dutch, but when he tried to speak English he got stuck in the words and switched to French hoping that the audience would understand him. However, mainly their French fans that came along with the band were able to follow his conversations. Those people were also responsible for the many cries and cheers between the songs. The applause after the songs was just overwhelming, especially when the band performed a classic track from one of their three albums. Even the two new pieces, the opening tune Festin Ultime and L'Azur got great response. En Avant Doute (2007) is their most successful album so far and therefore it was obvious that a large part of the set contained songs from that album. The audience could enjoy fine live versions of Cassiopee, L'Arbre and La Repas De L'Ogre. Some of these songs sounded a bit different because of the contribution of the two new members. This was mainly the case when Romain Thorel came from behind his keyboards to play the French horn. Also new drummer Vincent Bernavol, resembling guitarist Kalle Wallner (RPWL) by the way, added more power to the music. The overall sound of the band had become more powerful and aggressive, because of the more prominent role of the guitars. Claude Leonetti and guitarist Gédéric Byar There had regular eye-contact. You could see they had a lot of fun to let their instruments sound ugly from time to time.
The beautiful piano solo by Romain Thorel, the acoustic set towards the end and the harmony vocals at the start of On Nous Ment... were real impressive moments. My only negative remark concerns the band members, who still wear the same black clothes and having the same haircut as many years ago. It impressed me at the time, but now I certainly believe they should get a new image. But anyway, it's all about the music. During the two encores they proved again to be excellent musicians. After the show there was a 'greet and meet' party for their fans which they will not easily forget. For me, it was a very entertaining evening and above all a chance to witness two bands that don't run over the old progressive ground in order to be successful!
Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Setlist Lazuli:Set 1:
En Avant Doute
On Nous Ment...
Le Repas De L'Ogre
La Belle Noirceur
Une Ombre Au Tableau
Pictures Lazuli by Arthur Haggenburg
Click on the picture to enlarge.
Line up Lazuli:(left to right)
lead and backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitars
léode, backing vocals
keyboards, French horn, backing vocals
drums, percussion, backing vocals
Setlist Quantum Fantay:Set 1:
Kukeriku part 1
Pictures Quantum Fantay by Arthur Haggenburg
Click on the picture to enlarge.
Line up Quantum Fantay:(left to right)
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