Friday 16th and Saturday 17th November 2001
Sala Ritmo y Compás Spain

FRIDAY November 16th

The first night of the event was meant to be focused on instrumental, guitar oriented music, progressive metal, even new trends, being a more eclectic line up. I missed the first band, JIN, because I got late to the venue due to traffic and parking excellences you only can taste here, in the capital of Spain, and more specifically on the area where Ritmo y Compás is located. :-/

TONY G. HERNANDO: Young Spanish guitar-hero. He was called last minute and didn't have time to rehearsh with a backing band, so he had to do a really peculiar set. He played over the CD, without the guitar tracks, (which he played live, of course), being kinda a guitar karaoke thingy. It was the first time I saw something like that, which wouldn't prevent me from digging the show a lot. Despite the serious sound problems (it was a permanent condition throughout the night that the bands couldn't hear themselves on monitors), he delivered a short, (barely half an hour), yet intense performance, proving his great talent and his amazing ability to transmit musicality and emotion. Really sensational.

Imperfectus Bultus. They played after Hernando, but won't be reviewed here since their music is way too out of what we focus here, in AOR-Europe. I feel not well into their style to do an accurate review, as a personal note, I didn't like their show at all, if only because I'm not at all into it.

TONY BAENA: Well, how could I describe it the way I see it? Baena plays really really well, so do the musicians (bassist and drummer) on his band. But, IMO, he was too cold. He did not transmit anything, even though when I was listening to the songs I thought, well, this can be really cool on the CD, but failed to thrill me at all. His show was like a rehearshal with audience, he avoided facing the crowd, playing sidewards, looking at his band. He only addressed the audience twice, and besides, they even stopped playing once because keyboards (programmed) were trigered off-time, very sad indeed. The way I see it, an artist/band not only has to be good, but also seem good, and Baena is good, but he doesn't seem good. Lastly, the sound he got from his guitar was not clear enough compared to Tony Hernando. Of course, you can argue that Hernando played over a CD where everything sounds perfect, whilst Baena played with a real band, with all the risks and problems it takes. But playing with a real band also has a lot of advantages, and at least for me, Tony Baena made no profit out of these. Pity.

AVATAR: The proggie touch of the event. Technically good musicians. Very much in a Dream Theater vein, but the singer falls into the screamers alley. He should work more on his lower registers IMO. Unlike LaBrie, who knows when and where to scream, this guy seemed to be anxious to get to the part in which he could scream... annoying! But, as I said, they are good musicians, and with a more relaxed work on the vocal department (I feel this guy could sing a lot better if he practiced) they can become quite a nice prog metal band. They ended their show with a couple of covers, Rainbow's "I surrender", which wasn't so nice because Joe Lynn Turner does NOT scream like this guy does (try to imagine that!) and lastly they played Dream Theater's "Pull Me Under" (an obvious choice if you see their influences), in which there is no way to compare the voices of LaBrie and the singer of Avatar.

SATURDAY, November 17th

Second night was more melodic rock oriented, on its different styles, from Perea's pop-rock to Eden Lost's no-nonsense hard rock, through Ice Blue's 80's recreation and 91 Suite's delicious ear-candy style.

PABLO PEREA: A shorter show than his previous one with Mitch Malloy, but pretty much alike, so apply there to read my comments. I liked it, of course, it hoe could I not with two great voices such as Pablo Perea and Pau (his keyboardist) who sings even better than Pablo does. Really nice show full of covers (Bon Jovi, Police, John Waite, Bryan Adams, La Trampa, etc).

EDEN LOST: I didn't like their show at all. Specially the singer, who is a temporary one while they find a permanent vocalist. I had the feeling, watching their show, to be back on late 80's where there where loads of what we used to call "American rock" (Didn't used the word melodic rock back then) bands here in Madrid area, and most of them lacked of a good singer. But everybody deserves a second chance and since it was the first time I saw them performing their own stuff, I'll reserve for next time the right to change my mind, or not. Just let's hope they find a more suitable singer on the near future.

ICE BLUE: Total 80's feeling! Very tight sound, good backing vocals, and good songs. The singer ain't bad either and he sure is a potential showman. Early Bon Jovi style all over, just see the pic! And the show was spiced up with a good portion of fireworks (who said the 80's where over?) even though the venue was too small for that kind of things. The realase of their debut album (schelduled for March, 2002) appears to be one of next year's highlights as far as Spanish melodic rock is concerned.

91 SUITE: They wanted to pull out the thorn of their Gods not that convincing show (due to sound problems), and sure they did it! They were simply great. They gave it all to the audience and delivered an unforgettable gig. Jesús' voice arose magnificently and the band were truly sensational, specially Paco and Iván, the guitarists, who, not being guitar heroes, have both, however, lots of musical taste when it comes to melodies, no matter if they're doing solos, riffs, licks, or whatever. All the songs are melodic to the extreme [Hi, Kimmo!]. The overall sound of the band is really tight and the backing vocals are the finest I've ver seen on an Spanish band. They played most of the tracks from their album and even repeated two songs. A video was shot for "Time To Say Goodbye" and its version in Spanish "Si El Mundo Tiene Un Fín" to be played on tv stations, I just hope they get some airplay at all. There was room enough on their show for two covers, Journey's "Any way you want it", (slightly faster than the original, but good enough), and Firehouse's "Overnight Sensation". The audience was totally pleased with their show, and both the band and the crows have a great time last night. Now, if only they had this same sound (Very good, btw) at the Gods, you European fans would know by now what I'm talking about, pity! You missed it, luckily we didn't.:-) Jorge Antonaya,

Jorge Antonaya,