||STREAM OF PASSION GO OUT ON A HIGH AT THEIR LAST EVER UK SHOW
Stream Of Passion: Robin 2, Bilston
Ian Sutherland: Photos by David Sarah
Stream Of Passion fans in the UK haven't had that many chances to see their favourites over the years. Visits from the unique Dutch symphonic progressive Metallers have been sporadic over their eleven year history so it is somewhat ironic that their first headline tour here consists of four shows out of the last five they will ever play.
Having decided to call it a day at the end of 2016 all the live appearances over the last few weeks have been emotional ones for the band and their fans. There is an unusual bond between these guys and the hardcore fan base, partly due to all the members gregarious nature and desire to hang out with their audience after each show and also as their last album 'A War Of Our Own' was the result of a very successful crowdfunding campaign. As a result the first three shows on this tour in London, Bristol and Glasgow have had audiences roaring the band on during the set and many thank yous, hugs and even some tears afterwards.
The Robin 2 in Bilston is one of the band's favourites in the UK and is a fitting place for what will be their penultimate live gig. An expectant crowd is gathered in the hall with a mixture of enthusiastic locals and fans from all over the UK, the Netherlands and even Chile. They roar into life as the lights dim and the band launch into 'Monster' followed by the title track from what is their final studio release and the tone is set for the evening. The band take all the emotion from the situation and channel it into their performance adding even more energy than usual. The crowd respond in kind and the result is one of the most intense and emotional, yet somehow uplifting gigs I have ever been to.
The set consists mostly of songs chosen by theIr Fan Legion who crowdfunded the album so there are old favourites like 'In The End' and 'Out In The Real World' as well as newer songs like the emotive 'Don't Let Go' to enjoy. The guitar solo on the latter is superbly performed by Stephan Schultz who also excels with his wild yet tasteful soloing on 'When You Hurt Me The Most'. His compatriot on the other side of the stage Eric Hazebroek adds his own unique darker tones to the sound and 'Broken' is particularly haunting and atmospheric.
Drummer Martijn Peters is all smiles and sweat as he shows off his mixture of power and precision, driving along songs like 'Collide' with huge commitment. Added to the energy of hugely underrated bass player Johan van Stratum, the rhythm section is really something special handling the complexities of 'Monster' with ease and able to add subtleties too such as in the ups and downs of their cover of Radiohead's 'Street Spirit'. Introduced in a tongue in cheek way by singer Marcela Bovio as being 'murdered with powerchords', the song is a fine example of the power and drama these guys have in their locker. The harmonies between Ms Bovio's vocals and Schultz's guitar brings the hairs up on the back of my neck at one point.
That's not the only time the voice of the band gives me chills tonight and the singing tonight is just never less than stellar. Leading the crowd in a singalong during 'The Curse' or rocking out through 'This Endless Night', the hard work and training that this daughter of Mexico puts into singing is clearly evident. She's charming and funny too, chatting to the crowd between songs and advising that when things are finally over she will miss everything but the pornographic connotations of the band name!
There are so many highlights tonight it's hard to pick anything out from the rest of the set. There was a lovely spontaneous moment when a request from the crowd for the Spanish language ballad 'Nostalgia' led to a beautiful off the cuff rendition with keyboard player Jeffrey Revet showing his superb skills on the piano while his bandmate shows how beautiful she sounds singing in her native language.
If I had to pick one tune that stood out it would be 'Lost' though. A song about disconnection and the difficulties of adjusting to new circumstances, the tone is perfect for the situation while the song has both bombastic heavy sections which show just how good and how powerful the band is. Matched to heartbreakingly pure vocal solo sections and other parts where the sheer fury of band and singer at full blast is just captivating the result is simply stunning. The ovation from the audience at the end of this tune went on and on and deservedly so.
All too soon it's time for the last song and we get a particularly heavy version of 'Haunted' which leaves both band and audience physically and emotionally exhausted. Bows are taken and there is the usual interraction between band and fans over a few beers well into the night.
This was a bittersweet occasion, the gig was superb, the performance one of the best I will see for a long time. However it is nearly the end of an era and it's a shame that the announcement that the band is finishing seems to have energised their audience so much. Maybe if it had always been like this then this oh so deserving group of musicians wouldn't be moving on to pastures new. Absolutely superb stuff and anyone going to their final show in Utrecht in December is in for a treat but better remember their tissues.
A War Of Our Own
In The End
When You Hurt Me The Most
Don't Let Go
Out In The Real World
This Endless Night
I Have A Right