Karfagen- A Message Of Peace

September 23, 2022 - Parkvilla Theater, Alphen a/d Rijn (NL)


I have had the pleasure to witness a concert by Antony Kalugin and his band twice. The first time the multi-instrumentalist from Ukraine performed the music of Sunchild, Karfagen and Hoggwash on a Dutch stage was at the legendary Progfarm festival in 2010 (see review). At the time he was a rather shy musician
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Antony Kalugin (►more pics)
trying to make his way on the European stages. Six years later he and his fellow band members again climbed the Dutch stage at De Pul in Uden (see review). I witnessed a different man, more open to the people who were talking to him. A very friendly person who had been around the progressive rock scene for several years and knew what it was all about.

I knew a third time would come sooner or later but I didn't expect it to be in the circumstances Antony is now in. I guess everybody knows that February this year the Ukraine was invaded by Russia. So Antony came into a real nightmare like many of his fellow countrymen. He left his house and studio and took his family to Poland. At first he had to stay in Ukraine himself to be available for the army, just like all adult men. However the government of his country allowed Antony to travel to the Netherlands to bring 'a message of peace' on behalf of Ukraine. So he could accept an invitation from the people of Serious Music Alphen to do a concert at the Parkvilla theater in Alphen aan den Rijn.

Usually when a band is going on a tour to promote their music they bring a long all the necessary equipment and instruments. This time it not possible for the drum kit and amplifiers. Only an electric guitar, keyboard and bass guitar were brought along. So some friends stepped in and provided the missing things. So thumbs up for them.

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Karfagen (►more pics)
That it would be an emotional evening became very clear right from the start. During the two sets of progressive rock music Kalugin was several times very thankful for all who came to this special concert and giving their support. Among those visitors were people from all over the country and also a group of Ukrainian guests. People receiving temporary accommodation in the municipality of Alphen. Together they saw Antony perform on his keyboard and doing most of the lead vocals. Of course he couldn't do it all by himself and was assisted by Anton Barsukov on the electric guitar, Kostiantyn Shepelenko on drums, Vladyslav Karbovskyi on bass and the two female singers Mariya Panasenko and Olha Rostovska. The last one is Antony's wife who is always is next to her husband on stage.

As for the songs performed, it was a bit of a surprise that not anything was done from the more recent released albums of Karfagen since 2014. But if you have a back catalogue like Kalugin has, you have to make choices of course. Something which isn't easy I guess. But without the compositions taken from excellent albums such Echoes From Within Dragon Island (2019, see review), Principles And Theory Of Spektra (2020, see review), Birds Of Passage (2020, see review) and Land Of Green And Gold (2022, see review), there was still enough to enjoy. As for myself, I can tell you that only musical highlights were on the setlist.

This setlist started with a solo piano piece done by Antony himself. After that the other musicians entered the stage one by one. What followed were the more song-oriented compositions taken from the Sunchild albums. Songs which were sometimes easy to sing-a-long with. Songs such as Shall We Run and Reason Why. However before those songs were done the first Hoggwash piece could be enjoyed. Titled Another Friday Night. During the first set both female singers were given time in the spotlight.
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Mariya Panasenko (►more pics)
Something I enjoyed a lot as both are excellent singers. Most of all Mariya Panasenko, who used to sing on cruise ships, is gifted with a extra ordinary voice. Also her excitement on stage was something which inspired the other musicians to move even a little bit more as usual. A special mention goes also to the intro of Invisible Line. The symphonic string synthesizer sound was really impressive.

After the break, which again started with a Hoggwash piece (Out Of Darkness), the focus was on the instrumental and the more symphonic compositions which were taken mainly from Karfagen albums. Songs on which the musicians in the band could show their musical talents all the way. A good example was Amused Fair, taken from the Karfagen album Continium, on which Kalugin showed how to play an awesome synthesizer solo. Another good example was Father, taken from the Sunchild album Messages From Afar - The Division And Illusion Of Time (2018, see review). On this mellow piece Antony not only showed all of his musical talents but also guitarist Anton Barsukov made me forget former band member Max Velychko. So thumbs up for Anton. With the song Close To Heaven one of the ladies again entered the stage. This short piece was most of all a solo spot for the earlier mentioned Panasenko. Who was accompanied by Kalugin on the electric piano during this beautiful ballad. For the next piece A Day Without Rain Antony's wife also again joined on the stage to do a special song for their home country. "A day without rain is a day without pain" as her husband introduced the song. The final song of the second set was Day Of Destiny. A sing-a-long tune which was used to introduce the band members and to participate by the audience.

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Special message
The encores were done without getting off stage. Of course the emotions ran even higher when Antony and his band performed an Ukrainian song specially written for this Message Of Peace concert. Titled Вільна (Vil'na). As expected the Ukraine flag also was brought on stage and had a special message. "ATACMS FOR UKRAINE", meaning to give Ukraine short-range ballistic missiles to stop the war and bring peace back to their country. After this it was still not time to go home. One more time the sing-a-long tune from the first set was done. During Reason Why Kalugalin went into the audience and invited them to sing with him the lyrics of the song. It was certainly a great ending for an excellent concert by some great musicians who unfortunately have to deal with people who don't want peace all over the world!

Thanks to the people of Serious Music Alphen for giving Antony Kalugin and his band the opportunity to bring 'a message of peace' on behalf of Ukraine to the Netherlands. It was a blast!

Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)


Live video
recordings

Henri, Eden & Roel Strik

Will be published later.




Setlist Karfagen:


Set 1
Piano Intro
Another Friday Night (Hoggwash)
Shall We Run (Sunchild)
Rain Drops (Sunchild)
Reason Why (Sunchild)
Visionary Sights (Sunchild)
Grail And Time (Sunchild)
Invisible Line (Sunchild)
Set 2
Out Of Darkness (Hoggwash)
Amused Fair (Karfagen)
Father (Sunchild)
Labyrinth (Karfagen)
Close To Heaven (Karfagen)
A Day Without Rain (Karfagen)
Day Of Destiny (Sunchild)
Encore:
Вільна
Reason Why (Sunchild)




Pictures Karfagen by Arthur Haggenburg

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Click on the picture to enlarge.

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Line up Karfagen:

(left to right)
Kostiantyn Shepelenko:
drums
Mariya Panasenko:
vocals
Antony Kalugin:
keys, vocals
Olha Rostovska:
vocals
Vladyslav Karbovskyi:
bass guitar
Anton Barsukov:
guitar
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