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Pavlov's Dog: Paard Van Troje, Den Haag, Holland
19th April 2017

ian sutherland
Words and Pictures: Ian Sutherland

pavlovs dog

It is amazing some of the bands who are still around and making a living these days. Veteran Missouri prog rockers Pavlov's Dog are a good illustration. After releasing two albums in the mid seventies which were critically well received but sold poorly, the record label refused to release their third album after it was recorded and the band went their separate ways. However after the inevitable reunion in 2005, they continue to record and tour and my visit to the Netherlands coincided with their show in Den Haag so I had to go and see what they were about.

Prog rock is big news in Holland but even here this gig has to take place in the small hall of this prestigious venue. There are a couple of hundred keen prog fans in attendance though when the band hit the stage. No support act, just straight into the main thing with 'Savage', a song taken from main man David Surkamp's other band Hi-Fi.

pavlovs dog

The sound was great from the off and the band had a really relaxed vibe on stage. Surkamp still has a fine voice though with maybe a little bit of a lower tone from his mid seventies heydays. He has a relaxed and confident manner too. The other thing that is apparent quite quickly too is that all the band are good, but comparatively recent additions Abbie Stelling on violin and Amanda McCoy on guitar have a bit of magic in their playing and elevate the band's songs to a new level each time they get featured.

The set developed as a history of Surkamp's career covering the Hi-Fi period, solo tunes, collaborations, songs from the band's recent past and the 'lost' third seventies album. I thought that this let the set drift along at times and maybe it was familiarity, but it was when material from the now cult classics 'Pampered Menial' and 'At The Sound Of The Bell' was aired that things really took off.

pavlovs dog

'Standing Here With You' was elegant and heartfelt with Abbie Stelling's violin floating beautifully over the top. 'Episode' was another slow building classic which let the violin feature once more.while on the more energetic 'Song Dance' guitarist Amanda McCoy got to share the spotlight with a fine bit of wailing on her axe that any seventies rocker would have been proud of. Of course the evening had to end with their most famous song 'Julia' with Surkamp's agonised vocal delivery as effective as ever.

The set list could have been trimmed a little but with a show lasting around two hours these venerable old prog rockers put many younger bands to shame. When they match that magnificent guitar and violin work to their best tunes the result is magical. I for one am glad they are still around.

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