Bospop Festival - Weert, The Netherlands, Sunday 12 July

Due to personal circumstances I could only attend the second day of the Bospopfestival in Weert. It was the 35th edition of the most pleasant festival of The Netherlands and the program me with bands like Steven Wilson, Thunder, Europe, Anathema, Danko Jones and Black Label Society looked great. I had a couple of interviews at the festival so I sadly missed some performances, but anyway, here we go.

The London Souls  Main Stage 13:00  14:00

This band from New York actually consisted of three band members, but since 2012 The London Souls  only consist of Tash Neal (guitar and vocals) and Chris St, Hilaire (drums and vocals). A short time ago their second album called Here Come The Girls was released and their gig at the Bospopfestival was their first performance in The Netherlands ever.

The music of The London Souls is a blend of classic rock, folk, blues, hip hop, rock and folk rock and sometimes they sound like Led Zeppelin, the Beatles and/or The Byrds.

Guitar player and singer Neal is a Lenny Kravitz look-a-like and also his way of playing and handling the guitar reminds me of good old Lenny. The London Souls have a great swinging and rocking gig with the song The Sound as the highlight. Lots of people in the audience look, listen and wonder how these two guys put on this great bluesy rock performance.

The song Hercules, from their new album, will certainly become a live classic song for this Big Apple duo. I am sure that the London Souls will become a great rock band in the near future, watch out for these guys.

Black Label Society  Main Stage 15:00  16:00

The heaviest, but then again also the most predictable and somehow `boring` performance comes from Zakk Wylde, better said: Black Label Society. The gig starts with a Whole Lotta Sabbath audio track and then Zakk enters the stage. His looks are still rather weird  think Catweazle - and right from the start Zakk and Co. fill the air with super heavy guitar riffs, loud pumping bass hooks and thundering drums.

Zakk plays a lot of solos and there is no doubt that he can play guitar, but he actually goes over the top a lot and his solos sound very much a like actually& Zakk' s solo guitar  performance is completely redundant and probably not done any more in the year 2015! This is in fact a missed opportunity for Black Label Society, because earlier this year I saw their performance in the Milky Way in Amsterdam, and that performance was much and much better!

Danko Jones  Tent Stage 16:00  17:00

The Canadian trio Danko Jones does not perform at Bospop for the first time and this time they convince the audience again with their tight, raw heavy and loud set list. Right from the first minute Danko takes the audience by their throat and they entertain the crowd with a very dynamic and entertaining rock and roll show. Up tempo tracks like First Date and Gonna Be A Fight Tonight are probably the musical highlights of this energetic gig, but in fact all the songs Danko plays are top of the bill and so I think that this will not be the last time that we have seen Danko Jones on the Bospop stage. DJ is a true rock entertainer who lives and breathes rock and roll!

Europe  Main Stage 19:00  20:00

The new album War Of Kings of Swedish rockers Europe is as far as I am concerned a highlight in their long career. However the band is rather obliged to play a couple of old classic Europe tracks and Bospop, being a classic rock festival, is the ideal place to do so. Therefore we get a mix of old and new songs today and Europe kicks off with the title track of the new album and it is clear from that song on that Joey Tempest' s voice is still great.

Hits like Superstitious, Carrie (rather sweet, but hey& ) and Rock The Night are still great tracks that also encourage the audience to sing along. However newer songs like Second Day and Days Of Rock And Roll are more to my personal liking. John Norum' s guitar picking and playing is cunning as ever and at the end of the show the audience gets what it is waiting for: The Final Countdown! This was a more than excellent show from these Scandinavian rockers and the audience was set at ease with this fantastic festival set list; hats off for Europe!.

Thunder  Tent Stage 20:00  21:00

A Thunder gig always is a party and this very English rock band convinced friend and foe at Bospop again. A short time ago Thunder' s tenth studio album Wonder Days was released and according to my humble opinion this is their best album so far. This wonderful rocking, entertaining set opened with the title track of that new album and right from the start the tent stage was  on fire and Danny's classic bluesy rock voice is so recognizable and so good that as a listener you just marvel and get  sucked into the Thunder  violence . Newer tracks like Black Water and The Thing That I Want are mixed with classic Thunder songs like Low Life In High Places (always one of the highlights), Back Street Symphony and Love Walked In. For one hour the Bospop audience was in another dimension and the entire crowd wanted Thunder to go on playing, but sad but true after 60 minutes it was over and done; too short and too fast it was over, till the next time on Bospop; Thunder rules!!

Dream Theater  Main Stage 21:00  22:00

For Dream Theater it is also not the first time to be on the Bospop bill, however this time the band is not the headliner! Today Dream Theater has just one hour to show their musical skills and they do this with a short 30th anniversary set list; a weird mix of tracks from different albums with the biggest surprise the song Afterlife; a track from their debut album released way back in 1989. Myung, Petrucci (who had his birthday this day) and Rudess are of course fantastic musicians, but singer LaBrie sadly has an off day (again& ). Therefore songs like the melodic Bridges In The Sky (one of my favorite DT songs) and also the heavy As I Am from the super album Train Of Thought do not sound as they should; in fact, vocally seen they sucked big time& . Being a die-hard DT fan this really hurts!

Surprises in the set were, as far as I was concerned, Burning My Soul (from the weakest DT album: Falling Into Infinity) and the heavy Panic Attack from the album Octavarium. From their latest album the guys only play the rather simple mediocre Behind The Veil, but the best track of today is without any doubt The Spirit Carries On from the album Metropolis PT.2. Astonishing fact is that these super musicians also make mistakes, although I think that a lot of people did not hear the mishap during Metropolis Part 1: The Miracle And The Sleeper& I have seen/heard DT lots of times, but sadly this was one of their most  boring performances I have ever witnessed; I truly miss Mike Portnoy . Dream Theater can do much better than this and I am sure that they will prove this again in the near future.

Anathema Tent Stage 22:00  23:00

The last three albums of this progressive rock band from Liverpool were magical and I am sure that the Anathema guys find this also true as tonight they only played songs from We' re Here Because We' re Here, Weather Systems and Distant Satellites. The magnificent gig started with the track Anathema and the tone was set; the sound was perfect, the lightshow brilliant and the vocals were out of this world and very emotional. Anathema plays at a very high musical level nowadays and the crowd is almost speechless and totally enjoys songs like Untouchable Part 1 (goose bumps all over), Lightning Song, The Beginning And The End and The Last Song Part 3. The Cavanagh brothers are in top shape and also the voice of Lee Douglas is crystal clear, emotional and breathtaking. It really is a shame that the show is over after 50 minutes and this is due to the fact that the Anathema guys and girls do not want to miss a single minute from the Steven Wilson performance which starts at 23:00& .

Steven Wilson Main Stage 23:00  00:30

Two years ago Steven Wilson was the last act on the tent stage at Bospop and now he is the headliner and he has the honor to be the last band of Bospop 2015. The Bospop organization took a risk with Wilson as a closing act but what a brilliant performance it was; sheer magic! The sound, Wilson' s performance, the lightshow, the stage, everything fitted and almost everything was near perfect, maybe even brilliant. Most of the songs on the set list were of course from his latest album Hand Cannot Erase, but Wilson also played a couple of other solo tracks and also Porcupine Tree fans were treated to two songs, namely: Sleep Together (Fear Of A Blank Planet, 2007) and Lazarus from Deadwing (2005). Wilson and band with a.o. Dave Kilminster on guitar opened with excellent versions of First Regret, 3 Years Older (superb) and the title track of the new album. The sound was almost perfect and therefore you could also hear and recognize all the subtle musical characteristics of Wilson' s music. Marvellous songs like Routine and Home Invasion convinced the 7500 Bospoppers of the sheer brilliance of Wilson' s new album. But also older tracks like Harmony Korine from the album Insurgentes (2008) was very well received and got lots of positive reactions. Steven Wilson and band were the best act to finish this great 35th edition of Bospop. See you all again next year!

Review & photos: Martien Koolen

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