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  THE GENTLE STORM/STREAM OF PASSION
The Garage, London
23rd April 2015


Ian Sutherland

ian sutherland



gentle storm

Dutch symphonic progressive Metallers Stream Of Passion have visited the UK often enough now that there are a smattering of their t-shirts among the crowd gathered in The Garage. A cheer of anticipation greeted their entrance before they launched full tilt into 'Monster' from their most recent album 'A War Of Our Own'.

A band never short of intensity, the heavy riffs and twisting rhythms immediately grab the crowd's attention and Mexican singer Marcela Bovio shows what an astonishing firecracker of a voice she has, holding a note so long you think she must be all lungs.

What follows is an all too brief set showcasing a band in confident, fighting form. Their new songs ranged from an energetic 'A War Of Our Own' with the subtleties of the keyboard riff and breathy vocals intermingled with some meaty guitars to the gentle rhythm section based grooves and aura of impending loss which pervades the atmospheric 'Don't Let Go'.

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The back catalogue is raided for their cover of Radiohead's 'Street Spirit' with its injection of massive Metal edge and drama and the catchy 'In The End' featuring a guitar solo full of melody and invention from Stephan Schultz.

The band will soon be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the release of their debut album 'Embrace The Storm' with a concert in Zoetermeer and they limbered up by including the groovy riffing of 'Deceiver' here and a final flourish of a massively heavy version of 'Haunted'.

Even ten years on this band still goes from strength to strength and this was another triumphant live performance which garnered a terrific reception. I'm looking forward to attending that 10th anniversary show for MetalTalk and seeing a much longer set.

The debut album from The Gentle Storm, 'The Diary' was released last month to both critical acclaim and commercial success. The album was a collaboration between Dutch legends Arjen Lucassen and Anneke van Giersbergen but these days Mr Lucassen only makes occasional live appearances so the touring responsibilities have been taken up enthusiastically by the other half of the duo.

gentle storm

Opening track 'Endless Sea' starts slowly and builds up and this allows the band to enter the stage almost one by one starting with Anneke herself. Her voice is immediately entrancing. She has in my opinion the power to sing any song and make it beautiful and here she gets to show her gentler tones at the start and as the riffs and power of the band cut in she shows she can soar over it all just as easily. She is ably assisted with some fantastic backing vocals by Stream Of Passion's Marcela Bovio as she and her bass playing livewire of a husband Johan van Stratum are pulling double duty on this tour.

The jaunty jig that is 'Heart Of Amsterdam' follows allowing guitarists Ferry Duijsens and Merel Bechtold to play some catchy lead lines and the uplifting vibe of the song and the huge infectious smile of the mercurial lead singer get the whole of the The Garage into the right mood for the show to come.

'The Diary' is a concept album but the touring version decides not to use the story element and after opening with the two tracks which lead the album 'Brightest Light' is played next and followed by the high energy of 'The Storm' featuring some magnificent drum work from long time Ayreon stalwart Ed Warby.

The first break from the Gentle Storm material tonight sees Ms van Giersbergen returning to her roots with 'Eleanor' a song from her days in The Gathering before returning to the album with the brooding overtones of 'New Horizons' allowing ex-After Forever keyboard player and now in demand producer Joost van den Broek to show he has lost none of his skills while sitting behind a studio desk.

I was surprised when the band trooped off the stage at this point and even more so when it turned out to be for Anneke to give us a solo acoustic rendition of Pink Floyd's 'Wish You Were Here'. On the face of it, it seemed a bizarre choice but the mixture of a great song, a charismatic woman and an amazing voice turned it into a magic moment.

gentle storm

The acoustic section of the evening continued with a beautiful piano and vocal version of 'The Moment' with some truly stunning harmonies at the end with Marcela Bovio joining Anneke on stage. The harmonies continued when the Arjen Lucassen connection was used for covers of Ayreon tunes 'Valley Of The Queens' and 'Comatose' before it was full band time again for a some epic sounding versions of 'Cape Of Storms' and 'The Greatest Love'.

Suddenly we were back in Ayreon territory again though with a version of 'Waking Dreams' which Anneke sang on the album '01011001'. This a good song and was superbly played and sang but it felt a little like marking time in the set, a slight lowering of the energy levels. However that changed with another trip back to The Gathering days and the huge riff and energy of 'Strange Machines'.

Even better was the choice of Ayreon's 'Isis And Osiris' to close the main set. It is a true prog Metal classic with it's memorable riff played in both dreamy acoustic style and full on metal mode and it was just stunning with this band and vocalists.

gentle storm

The inevitable encore started with a song from another strand of Anneke's career, a cover of Devin Townsend's 'Fallout' which was fun but for me she has done much better material with the mad Canadian genius. The end of the show returned to 'The Diary' with the epic, eastern tinged swirling riff of 'Shores Of India' bringing proceedings to a fitting end.

In many ways this performance by The Gentle Storm was absolutely superb. The touring band that has been put together is fantastic, the vocals and stage presence is superb and there were many. many highlights. In the end I personally felt that the set list didn't really let the show flow and with a little tweaking would have turned a great performance into a total triumph. However I will look forward to catching them again soon, with or without a tweaked setlist as they are way too good to miss.

Stream Of Passion

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The Gentle Storm

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Line up:
Anneke van Giersbergen - vocals/acoustic guitar
Ferry Duijsens - guitars
Merel Bechtold - guitars
Johan van Stratum - bass
Marcela Bovio - backing vocal
Joost van den Broek - keyboards
Ed Warby - drums






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