Fourth gig: Regent Hall – London (UK)

Playing in London is always a special thing for me. I love London. Great city, great people. But this one goes in the books as a very strange day…

What a day it was!! I had it all sort out. Weeks before this gig, al was arranged. The local people in London knew what to do, where where in a day before with all our gear. What can go wrong? Remember last year? Miss our flight, no sound check, no power until 5 minutes before the concert, etc…. I made sure that this time, all would go smooth, easy and on time!
So the local sound company would arrive at 08:00 am to build up sound and lights. We would enter the venue around 10:00 to buildup our gear, and do a good and long sound check. Have lunch, and after lunch do a full band rehearsal, as it has been 1,5 weeks since the last gig in Germany.
Alco and Wilco (FOH & monitoring) took the van with our gear to the venue, and saw that there was no PA build up. So Wilco informed us to take it slow. And then around 10:00 we got the phone call… The sound company arrived with a small van with only the lights around 09:30 (1,5 to late!!). And the big truck was still in a traffic jam.. and would not arrive at the venue for 1,5 hours or so. So the truck arrived around 11:15 (more than 3 hours to late). When we arrived, only the trussing and a few lights where build up. No sign of any PA yet… And they where slow…. man I was irritated. So I had a chat with the leader of the group to speed it up, and they tried, I guess.
Unfortunately, due to a double booking of the venue, we had to clear the hall between 12:00 and 14:00, because there was a meeting. So you can imagen that with the sound being so late, and missing two hours in the middle, my whole schedule was thorn apart.
So we all went out for lunch at our favorite Indian restaurant, Masala zone. When we came back, (around 15:15) we started building our gear and instruments. So finally around 16:30 we started the first sound check, only 5,5 hours to late according to my schedule. But, all went well, but we had a real big sound problem. The venue was a church with soooo much natural reverb, that there was almost no definition tin the sound. But Alco, our FOH sound tech, did a great job! He managed to make something out of it, and it was great!
The concert itself was great. With mixed feelings I played through the set. I totally loved it! But it was the last one of the mini-tour and that is always a bit sad, because it is soooo great to be on tour. during tours, I know that this is why I live! 😉 I am really glad that we did those 4 concerts, and I am looking forward to the coming tour. Coming tour? Well, wishful thinking maybe… hehehe. Who knows!
For me there are now three weeks left until my holiday, and after that I will start working on my own prog-project. I will keep you informed about this. Also I will start producing the new CD of Daniel Fries, and will start with the drumtracks very soon.
Okay, It was sooo great to meet you all and to have some chats. I hope to see you all soon again on some tour or something.
Well, one thing I did not mention, somewhere this summer we will start editing the soundtracks of the DVD recording we did in Zoetermeer. Stay tuned!! I’ll make a ‘dvd-diary’ of it!

cya all!!
Collin

Day off in London

It is early in the morning now, I cannot sleep anymore. So I try to type, without waking Jessica. Yesterday we arrived in London around 09:00 am. We had a good flight, and all went well. It was really nice to have the day off, and walk through the city. As our hotel was near Paddington Station, everything was so close by. Just bought a day-ticket of the tube, and off we go!
The first thing I did was directly go to the official Apple Store. Man, what a great shop, and it is huge!! As an Apple fan, it is truly amazing to be in a real Apple store, owned by Apple itself. A real candy-store for big boys… hehehe As you can see in the movie, I had fun!

After the Apple Store, we went to Piccadilly Circus, the Tower Bridge and a lot of other places. Of course we stopped at Starbucks for some nice coffee and walked through the city.
At the end of the day we had diner at this great and trendy Indian restaurant. A real treat! If you are around London and you like Indian food you really should visit them! They are located in the Soho-area and called Masalla Zone.
So it was a nice day of relaxing and having fun!
Ready to rock now!!
Cya tonight!!

Questions answered

I have some time now to answer some of your questions:
Can you say something about how you prepare yourself before the band gets together. Did you just play along Neals cd’s or did you get the original drum-tracks? Or are any of the drum-parts written down?
– I got the music from Neal on CD or through email. Just the audio that is. No written parts or what so ever, just the music on CD or MP3. Then I would listen to it a lot, and start transcribing the drumparts. I found that when I transcribed a song, it is 80% in my head already. This is for me the best way to memorise a song.
Are you trying to stay close to MP’s technique and style or can you really do your own thing with it?

– With the music of Neal, Mike’s drumparts are quite essential for the feel of the song. They are almost part of the composition. If you analyse his drumparts closely, you see that they are part of the bigger picture, and that it is very musical. So I try to stay as close to his parts as possible. Of-course I am not Mike, and also his roots are different. Especially with the double bass playing. Mike played double bass since he was a kid. I just started to play them for 5 years now. I take the freedom to play the fills a bit my way: if a Portnoy-fill is to much of a challenge, I’ll might change it a bit. But the rhythms and grooves, I try to play them as they are. Neal gives me total freedom in my drumparts, as long as it serves the song, and gives the same energy.

How did you and the band prepare? Where there a lot of rehearsals with or without Neal?

– When Neal and I agreed on the setlist, I informed the band about the songs. As the bandleader I had to oversee that everybody was learning the songs correctly, so we came together a few times in the month before the tour, and jammed together, and played through our parts. Quite difficult when the leading man is not there. You miss the leadvocals, his keys, and his guitar-parts. And because Paul is from the UK, during those pre-rehearsals we did not have any guitarparts. It was just Jessica, Henk, Wilco and myself. The last weekend before Neal arrived, Paul came over, and we rehearsed two days with the band. Then a week later, Paul came on monday. That day was just setting up, soundchecking etc. Tuesday we rehearsed with Paul. And on the wednesday (one day before the first gig) when Neal arrived, we started rehearsing with the full band . So we all had some preparation time in advance, but the real full-band rehearsing took place in 1,5 day.

Can you tell us a bit more about your drumkit you use on this tour?

– Sure thing! The kit I use during this tour is a Tama Starclassic Bubinga in Violet Sparkle. Tama provided this kit for this tour only. My new Tama drumkit did not arrive in time, so they lent me this amazing drumkit. But as they did not have a 8″ tom at hand, they lent me this black one (maple). It is a great drumkit, with a very deep and dark sound. This actual kit has been used by Harvy Mason and Rodney Holmes during clinics in Holland.
I mounted the kit on my DrumFrame, that puts the whole kit in a 30 degrees angle upwards. It looks very cool, but it is also therapeutic. Due to a back injury years ago, I cannot play long on a normal drumstool, so this DrumFrame is THA BOMB! It is designed so that your balance point is not only your lower back, but your whole back. Thanks to this invention of Bob Gatzen, I can play for day’s without pain.
My cymbals are a mixture of Sabian and Zildjian cymbals (and for this tour I lent an Istanbul Rock Crash from Ruben, my drumtech).

Is there a second leg of this tour coming?

– Well, who knows. We are looking into the possibilities of touring some more. As soon as there is more news about this, I’ll put it online. If you have some suggestions of great venues, don’t hesitate to mention! 😉

If you have more questions, feel free to post them here, and I’ll try to answer them!
Hope to see you in London!

cya!

Third gig: Colos-Saal – Aschaffenburg (DE)

Hello there! Here we are again. The concert is just finished and I am still steaming in the hotelroom now. It is late (again…). Man, it was hot in Colos-Saal. But I really enjoyed this gig. The audience was killer! The venue was great. And I think we played great also. Still there are some hickups here and there, but to learn 3 hours of music in such a short time… well that comes with the territory.
There where also some minor technical problems, but that would not kill the joy of playing! Man, during Sola Scriptura where Henk plays his Tron-sample, his sampler malfunctioned. It played only 2 seconds of the whole sample. And as he was playing by him self… welll nothing happened. So he tried again, and again just 2 seconds. Neal decided that the audience should sing that choir part, and they did. Hilarious! It was also nice to meet (some) of you in Aschaffenburg. I red that some of you found it a bit too loud, but hey it’s a rock concert  😉
! I talked with the technicians about it and the major problem was the acoustics of the room.  It had totally no sound-absorption, just concrete walls. The high frequency’s where not absorbed, and thus where bouncing in the room. So that made it to loud if you where in the front of the room. Especially my way too loud cymbals (I am waiting on new ones) are real earbleaders with those aggressive high frequencies.  People that where more in the middle or at the back said that the sound was great, so it all depended where you where standing (and your personal taste). When we played in Veenendaal we played probably with even louder stage volume, but due to the absorption material on the walls and ceiling, it was still a great sound. I talked it over with Colos-Saal, and they are looking in to that, so probably Colos-Saal will soon be the best sounding venue of Germany! We’ll see. Colos-Saal rocks!!
Anyway’s we had a blast. Now we have two weeks off, and then the last one of this first leg of the Sola Scriptura Tour is over. We’ll keep in touch! I loaded 4 hours of videocamera tape into my computer, and when I can find the time, I’ll make some movie clips.
If anyone has pictures, please send them to me! I don’t have a lot of pictures, and would love to recieve them.
Thank you Prog lovin’ guyz ‘n girlz for all your love and support for Neal & Band. Let’s enjoy a lot of nice, progressive music together and build this prog-comunity!
CYA in London or somewhere else!
Collin

Second gig: IO-Fest, De Boerderij – Zoetermeer (NL)

WOW – what a day, and what a gig. We had to be in the venue really early, as the festival would start at 16:00, and a hour before the doors would open.
So still half sleeping we entered De Boerderij. A great venue, with great people working there. so after setup and soundcheck, camerarehearsals and some tweaking, tuning etc, the festival took off. It started with a nice group called Dial, formed by ex Pain Of Salvation bassist Kristof Gildenlow. After that it was Mangrove who took the stage with some symphonic rock with hints to Marillion and Genesis.
By the way: Yesterday (Friday) we went to see the soundcheck of Spock’s Beard. It was really strange to see The Beard on stage, and Neal in the hall looking at his old band. After soundcheck we went home again. Jessica was preparing a barbeque for us all, so that was nice. But when a traffic jam hit us, we had to cancell the BBQ, and went to get some fries instead.
Back to our gig. I think it went well. We rocked, and the audience rocked too! It must have been funny to see us ‘fighting’ sometimes with the cameracrew. Henk was playing a fast lick up his keayboard, but then could not finish it, as his hand bumped into the camera. WHAHAHA! I want to see that footage again!! Oh, and when my drumstick broke, it hit the camera(wo)man standing behind me. Sorry for that! 😉
We played the whole set, including the Testimedly, 35 minutes of outtakes of the Testimony album. I really love that one. Actually, the whole set is amazing, all that proggy stuff, combined with ballads and solo’s. It really is worth capturing this. Hopefully the DVD-shoot went well, and we can release it as a DVD. So the whole setlist (with encores) is about 3 hours long. And we play just 8 songs!!! That can only happen at a prog concert!
Tomorrow we have a travelday to Aschaffenburg (near Frankfurt) where we will play on Monday. Hope to see you all there!!
By the way, if you have some pictures of us playing, please send them to me! Because I am behind my drumkit, I cannot make any pictures. Thanx!
Cya!

First gig: The Shelter – Veenendaal (NL)

Oh…. what a day… We started rehearsal an hour later, and then took all the time we needed to prepare, rehearse, soundcheck, etc. Everybody was fried. Man what a day. And as this was also the day of our first gig.. Man what a day. It started to drive me crazy.
As we do not have a tourmanager during these four concerts, somehow I ended up as being the tourmanager. Not that I mind, but it is a bit much. So I am the drummer, bandleader and tourmanager. The whole day everybody was like: Oh, Collin, where is… Oh, Collin what will I… Oh Collin, can you… Oh Collin, how are we.. etc. Well…. You can imagen that I do not have enough time to manage it all, because we where rehearsing, and I cannot be at four places at the same time. So I was really stressed in the afternoon, and at that point I wished I was somewhere else (beach-palmtrees-cocktail etc). And for the first time I totally did not want to play, and would not mind if the gig was cancelled. I was getting afraid that all those things would result in bad playing, so I was a bit nervous. Whaaaaa! I am absolutely NOT complaining here! But I try to give you some insight in how I felt at that moment.
But then we did the final run through. And I was sooo blessed during playing. I really felt God touch me through the music, and it totally lifted me up. During a certain song I felt such a relieve coming over me. That was really intense! After the run through, I was soo happy, and could not wait until the gig started. By the way it was the last day that Esther cooked for us. And she did such a great job. It was way better that a lot of good restaurants. What a luxury to have somebody cooking for us, and it was great. Thanx Esther!! Also the hard work of the rest of the crew, and all that where involved did some great work! Thanx people!!
And then the gig. I hoped for a good turnup, and it was pretty okay. When we hit the first intro-tape, I started to feel the excitement I felt during every concert last year, coming back. Great feeling. I was ready!
When we played the first song, man I was full of energy. I had a blast behind my drumkit. Oh, by the way, that Tama Bubinga kit is sounding so good! Full body, deep low-ends. And that gongdrum!!! WWHHOOOOO what a OEMPF, and what a low-end. I love it! I played the blisters on my hands. 😉

For a first gig, after just 1,5 day’s of rehearsal with Neal, I must say that it all went well. Of course there where little glitches or things not being as smooth as they should be, but that is what you get when there is so little time. The sound and lights where great. Alco (FOH) is a great engineer, who really gets into the music and knows what to do. So I was very happy (as you could see maybe). So we played through the set, and then the first encore came. We had a special extra encore prepared with In The Fire, where we would be joined by Elisa Krijgsman on guitar. The solo-parts where like a G3-guitarbattle. And it was killer! The audience exploded after the solos and made the song ending in such a big way. Man… that was killer! So we went off, and expected that the audience would stay and we could play one more song. But someone turned on the lights, and everybody was walking away, thinking it was the end. So we did not play the last little song. Did I say little? Well…. if a 30-minute epic is little… So all who will see us on Saturday or Monday… Don’t go home to fast 😉  It wil be a blast!
Today we have a day off, so a bit of relaxing, and tonight I will go to Zoetermeer, to see Spocks live!
See you Saturday or Monday, or in London!

Sola tour 2007: Rehearsals Day 3

00:10 – Well… late again. We went through the entire set a few times… When you will come, you will have a real treat!! I promise you!
These days are crazy: we play from 10:00 am to 22:30 every day or something. Just some short breaks in between, and play on! So I play drums for about ten hours a day. ppfff. But I’m Loving It!
Okay, tomorrow the first gig! I am so looking forward to these gigs, what a shame it is only four gigs… But hey, who knows what will follow these gigs!
I am totally ready for bed, so I am so sorry, just a short note now. Friday we have a day off, so probably with more funstuff on this blog.
cya!!

Sola tour 2007: Rehearsals Day 2

00:27 – Okay, I promised that I would write something, so here I am now in the middle of the night writing this blog to you all. First of all , thank you so much for all the kind words. Nice to see that the prog-family is still alive and kicking!!
Today it was again a very loooong day of rehearsals. Neal came in the evening, after a long journey, and difficulties with baggage missing etc. But everything turned out okay. After a great diner, made by a friend of us, Esther Boertien, we played through some Sola stuff, and it ROCKED!!! WOW, these gigs are going to be good!! Well tomorrow more about the playing.
Oh, by the way. We all get our copy of the new live-CD, and is it sounding so good. It really brings a lot of great memories of last year back to mind. You really should get it! I think you all will enjoy it very much!
Still no pictures or new movies, but tomorrow I’ll make some.
We’ll I am keeping it short today, I really want to have some sleep. Okay, tomorrow a new update! Cya!