Acoustic show
After Party: PBII in Bluescafe

May21, 2010 - De Gigant, Apeldoorn (NL)

This evening I went to Apeldoorn to see Mangrove with their acoustic show. I went with no preconceptions, but of course I thought about it, beforehand. I wanted to experience this event as open and honest as I could be. I believe it's important not to have expectations, they can sometimes ruin the experience. It was hard because not so long ago, there was an acoustic tour by another band, one I like very much, with almost the same name. Luckily I didn't have much time to think about anything, because due to the horrific Dutch roads, I almost missed the whole show.  Thankfully, when I did finally get there, it turned out I only missed one or two songs. And now that it's all in the past, I can easily say: the band more than made up for the parking ticket I got!

From the moment I walked in, till the moment I left, I was mesmerised. Although I realised that some of that was caused by the environment - seated places and the intimacy of a small theatrical venue - most of it had to do with the beautiful music. I know Mangrove's music very well, but to hear it in this plain form was captivating. Mostly they stuck to the original length of the songs. They just played them more gently. Roland van der Horst used an acoustic Spanish guitar, and added some different rhythms. Chris Jonker was playing the grand piano, along with his keyboards, while Pieter Drost was doing his usual thing, playing the bass guitar. The tones of the music drove me back to the old days, when 'Unplugged' was very popular on MTV. I remember seeing Nirvana there and the impact that had on me. I could understand why now. It makes the music and the whole atmosphere so much more intimate and profound.

The stage where the three musicians of Mangrove were sitting was beautifully lit. The men were wearing white, the same colour as the mannequins showcased around them. It looked very artistic! What also was of great value was the new 'member' of the band - new member for the time being anyway. Drummer Aldert Glas only joined Mangrove tonight. And how. He played on the djembe and in some other songs an instrument which got the name cajun. He even did a solo, which was amazing. Really renewing, yet prog in all its simplicity. From four members, the scenery changed constantly. It was either the whole band, or only Chris at the piano, Chris with Roland, only Roland doing his guitar solo, and even Roland on drums! There was never a dull moment. 

But for me, the highlight of the whole night was the young and talented Chris Jonker. Man, can he play the grand piano! Probably this is just a matter of taste and preference. I got all kinds of flashbacks from my childhood, where I played piano and went to classical concerts with my parents, much to my dismay. But now I can reap the rewards and can fully enjoy and admire his talent. He also mentioned that the song Love And Beyond was written by him when he was only 19 years old. It's a beautiful song. After the break, the only thing that I was disappointed about was the fact that he sometimes used his keyboards as well. To me, that was unnecessary, and it somehow broke the spell of a magic night. But magic it was! 

Roland was doing a great job also, and not only on his guitar. His voice is one a lot of people disagree over. I think it fits the music. It was only when he sang Here comes the Flood (Peter Gabriel), that I had to think back of the time John Mitchell was singing this very song, not so long ago. I do believe Roland was there as well. I liked John's version better, but that's just my humble opinion. If I hadn't heard that version before, I would have thought differently. Roland may not be the world's best singer, but he's got passion in his voice, for sure!

I also found it a little disturbing that in the middle of a song, Roland jumped up, and started dancing (or something that looks like dancing). He is famous for that in his electric shows, moving through the crowd, with his guitar. But I didn't find it so appropriate in this acoustic setting. Anyway, I had to say something negative in this review, because I'm a critic. Overall it was a concert which gave me goosebumps, and smiles all over. It makes me proud to be a Dutchman, or woman, and being in some way in the circle of Mangrove.

The term 'the circle of' I learned the day before, when Transatlantic was playing in a sold out 013 in Tilburg (NL). It wouldn't be fair to compare these two, but I can honestly say, I had a better night at de Gigant.

After the show, it wasn't all over. PBII was playing in the Bluescafe nearby. Actually I didn't mean to review this, because I expected a small after-party, but they did a full set, so it's only fair to write about them as well. Not everybody who was attending Mangrove came to the Bluescafe. Very strange, in my opinion. Actually, very little people came. It must be said, the sound was very loud, but it didn't bother me!

It was a feast of recognition, when the first tones of Plastic Soup (see review) echoed through the cafe. The intimacy of de 'Theaterzaal' in de Gigant, made way for the closeness of the Bluescafe. Finally a chance to talk to all the people I knew, which meant that I couldn't concentrate fully on PBII. Well, that wasn't the plan either. But from time to time, I abruptly ended my conversation, and started listening to the music. I could see Tom van der Meulen do his thing at the drums. Impressive. Harry den Hartog on bass wasn't so impressive as I remembered him to be. I just don't know why. The music and the vocals were like I'd heard before. I didn't notice a difference in the music, didn't even miss John Jowitt or John Mitchell, but that must have been because I didn't pay enough attention. Or maybe I don't know so much about the music, or my range of concentration is limited'

The only thing I can objectively say is that they did a great job. There were lovely lights in the background, which gave everything a professional look. They played long, even repeated the first two songs, for the people arriving later, and also because the owner of the Bluescafe  loved them so much. The song Book Of Changes, you can feel in the pit of your stomach and in the tips of your toes. Can't think of a bigger compliment than that!

Janke Rijpkema

Setlist Mangrove:

Set 1:
Zone 1,2,3
Facing The Sunset
I Fear The Day
Wizard Of Tunes
I Close The Book
City Of Darkness

Set 2:
Guitar solo Fatal Sign turns into guitar There Must Be Another Way
Love & Beyond
Aldert / Roland percussion solo
Time will tell
Here Comes The Flood
Beyond Reality

Pictures Mangrove by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up Mangrove:

(left to right)
Roland van der Horst:
Guitar, vocals
Chris Jonker:
Grand piano, keyboards
Pieter Drost:
Aldert Glas:
Drums, djembe, conga, cajón

Setlist PBII:

Set 1:
Book of Changes
In the Arms of a Gemini
Plastic Soup
Changing Habits
Ladrillo (bass solo)
Criticize the Critics
Fata Morgana
Living by the Dice
The Hunchback
Cradle to Cradle
The Good Earth
Plastic Soup (reprise)

Pictures PBII by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up PBII:

(left to right)

Tom van de Meulen:
Drums & V-drums
Harry den Hartog:
Bass guitar, background vocals & V-bass
Ronald Brautigam:
guitars and background vocals
Michel van Wassem:
keyboards, lead vocals

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