Star One Featuring Ayreon Concerts September 2002

Star One Featuring Ayreon – De Boerderij, Zoetermeer – 28 Sep 2002

Well I have just witnessed one of the best gigs I have seen in years. I had
high expectations, as it was an Ayreon/Star One gig. This was better in almost
every respect. I am not the greatest fan of the Star One – Space Metal album
but I don’t object to it and I like the use of several vocalists. Live it is
really enhanced by seeing the different vocalists. Arjen didn’t just turn up
in jeans on a bare stage and play, as has been the trend with most bands lately.
He put on a full production and risked losing a lot of money. It was worth it
from the audience point of view I just hope the tour opens some future doors
or at least pays for itself. Having got the show and vocalists together it would
be a criminal shame to not be able to get a DVD record of it out.

Around 8.30 the lights went out and we got lots of Hawkwind type synth oscillations.
The stage was lit with lots of star type lights. We then got the Moon landing
conversation, which I didn’t really follow the point off but it did build the
atmosphere up nicely.

The Ayreon album covers were displayed on the video screen and by about Electric
Castle the band started to come on stage through a circular arch/black hole?
We then opened with "Set the Controls".

For the first two nights of the tour Edward Reekers was guest on two songs.
This was great for me as he is my favourite Ayreon singer. I would have been
gutted to miss him.

The stage had a drum riser in the centre. This had a silver front with audience
lights in it. The keyboards were to the left of the stage and there were 6 stacked
in two sets of three. Peter Vink tended to stand between the keyboards and the
drums. Above him and the drums was the video projection screen. Next to that
was a platform where the singers would often appear to sing their parts. Next
to that on the left side was the arch. This was about 5 steps high and Floor
Jansen and her sister Irene both tended to sing from that platform. Arjen was
positioned between the Arch and the drums.

Everyone in the band was wearing shiny material outfits except Damian who had
his standard black T-shirt on until somewhere near the end when I noticed he
switched to the Blake 7 type top he would wear the whole of the next night too.

High Moon was the next song then Edward Reekers was introduced by Russell for
"Dreamtime". Apparently on the rest of the tour it will be Russell
doing Edward’s vocals.

During "Eyes of Time" Robert Soeterboek used a megaphone to get some of the
distortion on his voice. I noticed he had a lot of treatment on his voice most
of the night and he tended to get a bit lost in the mix but he was clear when
he was allowed to sing normally.

"Songs of the Ocean" was next and the crowd took their cues and sung along
nicely on this. They were all really enjoying the show by now.

"Dawn of a Million Souls" was next. Russell Allen seems well loved
by the fans and he has an excellent stage presences. He really encouraged the
crowd to join in and they seemed to love it.

Next up was "Sandrider" and then it was time for "The Dream
Sequencer". First there was a projection of the start up sequence and Arjen
goes behind the stage. He then starts to play the solo but can’t be seen. After
a while he comes out on the upper platform next to the screen and does his part
accompanied by Joost on keyboards. At the end Arjen came down and took over
the keyboards to play some more Hawkwind type oscillations and Joost grabs a
keytar and a cape and plays a solo. The cape fell off almost immediately. Halfway
through this Arjen leaves the stage.

Next up was "Into the Black Hole". This is sung by Damian Wilson
and the fans I spoke to afterwards thought he did an excellent job replacing
Bruce Dickenson. Floor Jansen did a good job on singing Lana Lane’s part too.
In the middle where the band plays the bit that is very similar to Deep Purple’s
"Perfect Strangers" riff Ayreon threw in Vengeance’s "Arabia"
riff, which the crowd were quick to pick up on. Damian Wilson drew on his "Les
Miserables" experiences and acted out some of his parts from time to time.

Edward was back next for an all to brief "Actual Fantasy". It’s a shame it
couldn’t have been a full version and I was disappointed that "Computer Eyes"
was not in the set. Being my favourite Ayreon track I was kind of expecting
it. Oh well.

We continued the acoustic section of the set with Floor singing "Valley
of the Queens" beautifully. It surprised me when I checked Electric Castle
to discover she was not the original singer.

On "Isis and Osiris" I did miss Fish’s voice. Here he was sung by Russell.
Robert did the part originally by Edwin Balogh. It was a good performance and
I think having different people singing the different voice’s makes it more
interesting.

"Amazing Flight in Space" was next which was good as it made Arjen
doing some singing. He was quite amusing in acting out the lyrics opposite Robert.
After the lyrics we went to a guitar and keytar dual. With Damian Wilson in
the band and knowing Arjen has heard Rick Wakeman doing a two keytar dual I
couldn’t help speculating where the idea for this came from. It was amusing
when Arjen played Nah na na nah na as one of his riffs. The song was then rounded
off by a Bass and drum solo. Good stuff. Peter Vink seems quiet a joker.

Intergalactic Space Crusader to my mind got the biggest cheer of the night.
It could be my biased impression though as it is my favourite Star One track.
Again the crowd loved joining in. Damian and Russell enjoyed a good bit of play
acting in this one too.

"Castle Hall" was next. Joost is a very energetic and happy keyboard player,
he also seemed very good. I assume most of the sounds were dictated by Arjen
so it is hard to know weather he is just technically good or weather he has
all round flair. I assume we will find out on whatever the next project Arjen
turns his hand to.

The main set ended on "The Eye of Ra". This of course was a good
choice as it closed with all the singers on stage doing the harmonies. Incidentally
how is catacomb supposed to be pronounced? Maria thought it was Cata-coom and
when she asked me without me knowing why I said it the same way. In the "Eye
Of Ra" Arjen has it as Cata-comb and rhymes it with home.

Before the show we had seen Damian practice climbing the rigging on stage.
Towards the end of the song we found out why. He had decided it would be a good
place to sing the final section of the song.

After a short time the band came back for "Starchild". Towards the end of this
Damian just jumped into the crowd and walked towards the back of the venue.
I lost track of him and then someone pointed out he had climbed some rigging
up in the balcony and was singing his part from there. Again another trick he
has done at Rick Wakeman shows. It goes down well with the fans so I am not
surprised he carried on doing it.

To finish the Encore we got "The Two Gates". Robert really got the
crowd going again at the start. On a lot of Robert’s distorted vocal parts he
wore Sunglasses but in this Russell came on in them. He then introduced most
of the band before passing onto Damian to introduce Russell and Arjen.

Having read the set list before the show Arjen surprised us by coming out and
doing "The Intergalactic Laxative". He then apologised to everyone.
It must have been planned, as there was a graphic for it on the projector.

To conclude the night we got Deep Purple’s "Space Trucking". Arjen acknowledged
this by displaying the Perfect Stranger’s album Deep Purple logo and then the
Star One logo. Damian and Robert both decided to jump into the crowd but unfortunately
Robert lost his Microphone. Damian then managed to find another pair of shoulders
to get a ride on. Rather than go back to the dressing room at the end Damian
went straight back into the crowd to mix. On the projector we got the end credits
in Star Wars style presentation.

It was a fantastic show and I really could not have expected better. I am sure
it was the best gig I have seen this century!

Star One Featuring Ayreon – 013, Tilburg – 29 Sep 2002

Tilburg was a much big venue 1800 people compared to the 700 of Zoetermeer.
The stage was on the longest side so there was plenty of room for the band.
To my surprise the Stage props were a lot bigger. The back platform had an extra
section in it. The Drum riser was probably the same one but had 6 lights on
it tonight instead of 3 at Zoetermeer.

When the "Stars" were switched on at the start the crowd, those near me at
least, went "Ahh". I wonder how they are done because they took up
the whole of the larger stage set.

I noticed there was a man in the lighting rig with the spot light before the
show and I was pleased as I thought the show needed a little more light at times.
I didn’t spot the spotlight being used though. I wonder why he remained in position
all night.

During "Set your Controls" I thought the Stage was too dark.

During "High Moon" it was immediately apparent that the singers had a lot more
room to play. Robert for instance kept stomping around which I found quite a
good representation of the heavy music riffs.

At the end of "Dreamtime" Edward Reekers decided to add some extra
notes and Arjen went over and gave him a hug.

Damian was the main singer on "Eyes of Time" and again Robert popped his head
out from round the corner to sing through a megaphone.

On "Songs of the Ocean" Robert managed to get the crowd clapping
along at the start but they seemed lethargic later in the song. Whereas Zoetermeer
sang along with great enthusiasm on the chorus Tilburg seemed half hearted.
I was up in the balcony so perhaps the volume was lost on me but I am not convinced.
Reading other comments on the Ayreon list a lot seemed to prefer the Tilburg
gig but I think it was this lack of atmosphere that left me feeling Zoetermeer
was better. I also tend to prefer more intimate settings, another factor I am
sure.

"Dawn of a Million Souls" was next. Arjen had a different shirt on tonight
and this one had flashing lights on the shoulder.

"Sandrider" was dropped tonight. I wonder why?

"The Dream Sequencer" was next. Again Arjen went off stage and started
playing out of sight. Then Peter Vink wondered out to Arjen’s rig and tried
to turn something on. He couldn’t find what he was looking for and crawled on
his knees to where Arjen could see him and threw his hands up. Arjen then came
down the stairs turned it on himself and ran back to the top platform. He then
held his hands up and the crowd appreciated the humour of it. Arjen then carried
on and did a great job. Instead of taking over the keyboard he came down and
smooched Joost for a couple of seconds and then he let him go to do his Keytar
solo. Again Joost came out in a cape and this time it stayed on longer but it
still managed to fall off halfway through the solo.

"Into the Black Hole was next". To give Tilburg their due the crowd near me
were a lot louder on shouting "Arabia". Mind you I was in front of a couple
of fans that meet at a Vengeance gig. Apparently the singer even sang or something
at their wedding which was nice for them.

"Actual Fantasy" was followed by "Valley of the Queens".
Floor came and sing in the middle of the stage while her sister sat on the stairs
to the arch. Ewa played flute and a recorder type thing.

She played flute on "Isis and Osiris" to. Arjen had a quick push
and shove with Peter in this. Peter is such a character on stage and was noticeably
mucking about a lot more tonight. The whole band seemed to enjoy themselves
on stage more tonight. There seemed to be lots of press cameras about so I am
glad they seem to be able to relax and have fun.

In "Amazing Flight in Space" Robert took up a typical Damian pose
of kneeling on the floor. I really enjoyed watching him. On Arjen’s 2nd verse
Peter tried to put Arjen off by pulling daft faces at him. During the Guitar
Keytar dual Arjen scratched Joost’s head while he was playing his solo. This
and other daft things tickled the crowd. After Joost went back to his rig Arjen
even went over for another quick play.

Peter was pulling all sorts of poses while playing with an echo on his bass.
Arjen was in stitches watching him. He of course then went into his Drum and
Bass solo with Ed.

Intergalactic Space Crusader was again my favourite of the night but the crowd
were lethargic again until the end when it got a good response again.

From "Castle Hall" onwards I thought the crowd finally started responding better.

For the end section of "The Eye of Ra" Edward Reekers joined in on
Arjen’s mic and Arjen went into Joost’s rig. Tonight they managed to keep Damian
on stage so we got a good opportunity to or a whole band photo as they sung.

When Russell came back on for "Starchild" in the first Encore he
got a special clap from the crowd. He is clearly very popular. Towards the end
of "Starchild" Damian got up on the lighting rig and walked out to
the spot lightman shining a torch. The technicians were not happy about this
and tried to buddle him off it even when he was singing! Clearly an "Access
all areas" pass is not all areas even for musicians at 013!

In "The Two Gates" both Russell and Robert were stomping about like the Honey
Monster from old Sugar Puffs adverts.

For the 2nd encore Arjen again did the "Intergalactic Laxative".
The crowd actually clapped all through this so they were really in the mood
now.

To end the night we again got "Space Trucking". Robert took the first verse
and then it was Damian. When Russell was doing his verse Damian decided to step
into the crowd. They didn’t hold him and he dropped and then he was passed along
the crowd like a balloon. It didn’t stop him singing the next chorus on his
back though! He was then passed back onto the stage and the singers had a hug.
Damian then proceeded to scare the crowd by threatening to dive into them again.

A great end to another great night. I would like to have done the rest of the
tour but I could never handle the fatigue. If Maria and I had managed to loose
the children longer I might have given it a go though. It would certainly have
been worth it. It was also very good to have seen the difference between a big
stage and a medium one.

Arjen really did himself proud. The set and the production where all wonderful.
There must surely have been the odd musical mistake to a perfectionist like
him but I certainly didn’t spot them. The band seemed very tight both nights
to me. I hope the rest of the tour went as well. And I really hope he can get
this tour professionally videoed and released. If not I hope he can get some
more shows together soon. Musically and artistically it must surely be a success.
I just hope financially it is too.

Arjen why did you try getting us fans to where Star One Cardigans? Are you
saying we are getting too old? (They are running sweatshirts but they have a
zip in them. I am not looking forward to my brothers seeing me in it. Having
said that my daughters said I "looked well" when they saw me. I think
they then decided it was just that I looked good in my new top.)