Seen Live: Circle II Circle

Circle II Circle’s tour in support of their latest album “Reign of Darkness” (Spotify) took them, quite surprisingly, to our neck of the woods. As a Savatage-afficinado — singer Zachary Stevens was their singer for four albums and most of the 1990s — having missed all their previous shows in The Netherlands on account of being in places that aren’t really doable with public transport — fancy doing Weert-Amersfoort late at night, anybody? — it was too good a chance to let slip by.

On this trek, they were supported by two bands: Desert (playing Epic Dark Metal, from Israel) and Lord Volture (Pure and Unpolished Heavy Metal hailing from the Netherlands. For fans of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Iced Earth.). They were fun enough.

Circle II Circle was just freaking awesome. Unlike earlier tours, where they played loads of Savatage material, this time they played a set of their own songs. I must admit that my recollection of their last few albums is kinda hazy, but I recognized enough of what I heard. Some songs from the last album, a couple from the “Burden of Truth” album to mark its 10th anniversary, the majestic and well-received title track of their debut — it was all good. The band was tight, Stevens was on, the sound was quite good, all in all: quite awesome. And then there was the encore, featuring four Savatage songs, including perhaps my all-time favorite, “Chance” and a rousing version of “Hall of the Mountain King” with Stevens on drums and keyboardist Henning Wanner on vocals. Good, good, great, awesome times.

Circle II Circle — Edge of Thorns, live at FLUOR Amersfoort

Rumor has it a recording was made, so here’s hope that’ll show up soon, one way or the other.

The only downside is that after seeing Circle II Circle (and the same goes for Jon Oliva’s Pain and Trans-Siberian Orchestra) I remember how unbelievably awesome Savatage was, and that I still kinda miss ‘em. Having a few bands to raise the fist of the metal child is cool, and one should not linger on things one cannot change and all that, but dammit, it’s just not quite the same.

Seen live
Circle II Circle, Lord Volture + Desert at Fluor, Amersfoort on May 7, 2016
Set list CIIC (Spotify playlist)
Intro: Over-Underture / Victim of the Night / All That Remains / Soul Breaker / Heal You / Live as One / Watching in Silence / Untold Dreams / Ghost of the Devil / Drum Solo > Diamond Blade / Revelations / Somewhere / Epiphany // Guitar Solo > Turns to Me / Edge of Thorns / Chance // Hall of the Mountain King

Dan be’j pas vrij

As de wiezers van de klokke joe niet aangeben wanneer
A’j t met de tonge afkunnen en niet met ‘n geweer
A’j weten da j ‘t niet snappen en ok niet ongeveer
A’j in liefde geleuben en gien mense is joen heer

Dan be’j pas vrij

A’j in joen donkerste uur ‘n vrijheidslied verzinnen
A’j denken in de put alles moet nog mar beginnen
Op de fietse deur de regen zingen over zunne
As je iene alles gunnen die de alles al hef wunnen

Dan be’j pas vrij

A’j ‘t van de daken schrauwen en je doen dat hiel mooi stille
A’j denke dit is wel ‘t leste waor ik zwaor an tille
A’j niet alles wat je denken perse huuven te zeggen
A’j kwaoigheid en haat rustig naost joe neer kunnen leggen

Dan be’j pas vrij

Daniël Lohues, van het album “Ericana

First Lines: Inventing Elliot

At his old school, Elliot was the target of relentless bullying, but now that he gets to make a new start at a new school, he gets a chance to reinvent himself: by standing out just enough not to be noticed, he hopes to get ignored by the Big Meanies.

Of course, even in teenage-fiction, things do not go down that easy. Elliot does get noticed by The Guardians. Only, they recruit him to become one of them. They train him to know who needs punishment, and why. And then the poor sod gets noticed by a girl as well …

During the course of the story, Elliot has to invent several versions of himself. He juggles these masks, while he struggles to find which one is the best fit.

Book read
Graham Gardner — Inventing Elliot
First line
Elliot Sutton swallowed the sick, sour fear that threatened to engulf him.

First Lines: The Master & Margarita

With Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master & Margarita I waded my first, cautionary steps into the pool of Russian literature.

The novel is set in 1920’s Soviet Russia, where three story lines interweave: the one where Satan’s minions wreck havoc in Moscow, the one set in Jerusalem where Pontius Pilate condemns a tree-hugging hippie philosopher to death, and the one of the titular characters.

The first story left me slightly bewildered. There are a slew of characters, all with three names, of which either the first two or the last one are interchangeably used. A man loses his head after meeting the devil, his companion goes mad, a theater show ends in chaos and people disappear. Later, it interweaves with the third thread, and it becomes more surreal, with its flying on broomsticks, witches and Satan’s midnight ball.

The second story, an alternative interpretation of the crucifixion of Jesus, I found the most interesting one. Contrary to the Moscow scenes, nothing supernatural happens here. There’s just the human beings Pilate and Yeshua Ha-Notsri, and a web of deceit and intrigue.

Until about halfway through, I wasn’t sure what to make of this book. The first part, apart from the one chapter on Pilate — which didn’t yet make sense in the grand scheme of things — was a bit of drag. But then the titular master showed up. He wrote a novel about Pilate, that got rejected by The System, which caused him to turn away from society and his lover, Margarita. When she gets pulled into Satan’s machinations, the pace seemed to quicken, and things got weirder and quite enjoyable. Special mention should go to the scene where she destroys an innocent baby grand piano, which left her exhausted:

Quite Steinmanesque, if you ask me. The allegorical elements in the last few chapters suited me more than the supposed satire of the earlier chapters. And while a closer and more careful reading of the text might have revealed more layers and symbols and meaning, but as I’ve said before, that’s for other people. I enjoyed the story, and that’s good enough for me.

Now, having finished The Master & Margarita, the only books on my 40 Books Before 40-list left at my immediate disposal are in the “Oh my, these tomes are slightly daunting” category. The Count of Monte Christo clocks in at well over a thousand pages, Don Quixote is no slouch either, and neither The Odyssey nor Moby Dick are known for being light reading. But as I knew what I was getting into, I’ll just plunge into one of them after I’ve finished my current book.

Book read
Mikhail Bulgakov — The Master & Margarita (translated from the Russian by Michael Glenny)
First line
At the sunset hour of one warm spring day two men were to be seen at Patriach’s Ponds.