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Gouveia Art Rock 2018, Portugal, 5-6 May

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Meltdowner View Drop Down
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    Posted: May 10 2018 at 07:17
It was 10am on the 5th of May when me and Joćo (PA reviewer Kotro) drove up the mountains for another edition of Gouveia Art Rock. After stopping in Seia for lunch we arrived at the theatre one hour before the first concert.
During that time we went through some vinyl crates. Besides the bands selling their merchandise, this year there was only one regular seller, but his crates were full of great records and I seriously had to make choices.

Arriving from another planet (maybe Kobaļa?) wearing hazmat suits, this French band took us on a marvellous trip, varying between complex instrumental numbers and more atmospheric ones, all introduced by a spooky narration. 
I was truly amazed by the music, which sounds somewhere between Zeuhl and Canterbury, and the outstanding musicianship. The festival couldn't have started any better!

This concert started terribly, the drums and guitars were incredibly loud, the sound technician must have thought it was an open-air Metal concert rather than a small theatre. I was thinking about leaving when David Cross announced "The Pool", a song where the dynamics were reajusted and I was finally able to hear Cross and Jackson.
After that, they played a nice reinterpretation of King Crimson's "Exiles" and VdGG's "Theme One" with a great assistance from the audience. The concert ended with two more Crimson covers, "Starless" and "21st Century Schizoid Man", the former was great but the later had too much changes for its own good.

During the signing session of that concert I discovered a curious trivia, which might interest other RPI fans. Basically, I asked David Jackson to sign my copy of Ingranaggi della Valle's debut and while he remembered playing on it, he had never seen a copy of it. Then he said: "There was a disagreement with the band, they didn't like it, they said I didn't play angrily enough. I'm not an angry person, I'm a nice person!", while whining sarcasticaly. This does explain why the band didn't include him on the credits and why the label put a sticker with his name on it. My respect for IdV sank that day...

So that was all for the evening. After dinner the concerts were way behind schedule, the organization explained that there were some delays while preparing the stage but I wouldn't be surprised if it was because of a football game that glued many proggers' heads to the television screen (that's Portugal, folks!).

I completely forgot how bored I was from waiting when they started playing. Composed of a trio of violins, guitar and double bass, their music was an exciting mixture of Folk, Chamber Music and Flamenco with very interesting interplay between all the musicians. It was very entertaining to watch and the audience seemed to agree.

What can I say? It was the third time I watched his "10.000 Anos Depois..." show and it was clearly the worst. He replaced the backing vocalists and the synth player with a cello player (if you know the album, you know what's wrong with it). Other than that, the musicians sounded very confident, and José Cid was singing greatly that day.
And then we get to the self-titled track where the audience has to sing the lyrics until his ego is satisfied. The thing is, there was much less audience than his previous concerts and many of them weren't even Portuguese, so we seemed to have been stuck on a never-ending hellish cycle. He didn't play anything besides the album, which was also disappointing.

The first day was over, we went back to the hotel with mixed feelings about it. 
The next morning we went to Gouveia's public library for the usual debate led by Thomas Olsson. This year's theme was "Group Therapy", based on Steve Hackett's song with the same name.
The musicians who took part of this discussion were Steve Hackett, Liesbeth Lambrecht (Flairck/Aranis) and Courtney Swain (Bent Knee). I'll not get into details but the musicians talked about their formative years, their early influences and musical memories, difficulties throughout their career, the current state of music, among other things.
What was most interesting about this conversation is that all three musicians come from different generations, countries, musical background, instruments with much different perspectives on music.
After the debate we had lunch at a very slow restaurant, we barely got in time for the first concert of the day.

I have to admit that I've known this band for a while but never clicked for me before, although I had a feeling this concert was just what I needed. I was right.
I'm at a loss for words when it comes to this mesmerizing performance. I'll only say that I particularly liked the atmospheric sounds of the violin, the precision and dynamism of the drums (which reminded me of Neil Peart at times) and the powerful vocal delivery.

After the concert it took me some time to get all the signatures and exchanging a few words with the band so I arrived late for the next concert.

This classic English Folk band played in the beautiful town hall's courtyard, although the weather wasn't promissing anything good. It was a relaxed moment with lovely Folk tunes and Chris Simpson's banter, which was at some point interrupted by the rain.
The band then moved to the town hall's main stairwell although in fully acoustic form. Since I couldn't hear a thing from where I was standing the concert ended there for me.

Then we waited a few hours for the highlight of the festival by strolling around town, having dinner and playing Neuroshima Hex.

This concert was really fantastic, it exceeded my expectations. Joćo said this show was superior to the last one he attended in Lisbon. There was a change in the band's line-up, Nick Beggs was replaced by The Flower Kings' Jonas Reingold.
The first half consisted of his solo work, where Steve gave a special attention to the albums "Please Don't Touch" for its 40th anniversary and his latest, "The Night Siren" and also the single from the GTR album. The best song of this part was clearly the epic rendition of "Every Day", I watched Steve playing in awe.
The second half was obviously dedicated to the classic Genesis era, without a particular album in mind. They played "Inside and Out" which I had never heard before and I really can't understand why it wasn't included on "Wind & Wuthering". Much to my satisfaction they played "The Fountain of Salmacis" and "The Musical Box".
The concert ended with "Supper's Ready" which isn't a favourite of mine but I recognize and admire the musicianship required to play this epic. The best part of it were the final minutes where Steve gifted us with a mighty improvised solo, much like David Gilmour on "Comfortably Numb".
For the encore we heard the classic "Los Endos".

With a big smile on my face and nothing else to see, we drove back home while discussing all that had happened during the weekend and listening to even more Prog.
Overall it was another excellent edition of Gouveia Art Rock, and I hope I'll be able to go next year!

I didn't take photos during the event, so here's my festival in three photos:

Steve Hackett and yours truly

The purchases

The signatures

(Written by Samuel Cadima with a little help from Joćo Cotrim)

Edited by Meltdowner - May 11 2018 at 04:10
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