The Dolmen create their own world and take the audience on a musical adventure. Three weeks ago, on Friday 24th, the audience of P60 in Amstelveen got carried away into this magical world. Before this one-and-a-half-hour concert of the Dolmen, The Royal Spuds made an entrance for this world.
Tonight I’m Staying In, the opening song of The Royal Spuds. They might be the only one to stay in, because P60 is filled with people. Bare feet, swirly skirts and long hair with dreadlocks; that is a rough sketch of the audience. The Spuds are here to party and after the third song, the venue is quite steamy. It’s unclear whether that’s the audience or if there are any hidden smoke machines… The curtain falls and it’s time for the Dolmen.
The curtain rises and before we can see the band, we hear the first notes of Nuada. Band leader Taloch Jameson looks like he is having the time of his life. He is dancing and jumping around the stage, which has a contagious effect on the audience. Drummer Chris Jones is taking all of his energy out on the drums, dreadlocks flying around his face.
It’s time for Crimson Tears and that is clearly an audience favourite. Guitarist Josh Elliot is playing a solo and all three band members are dancing and jumping around. The rock number shifts seamlessly into an acoustic song. Josh’s guitar is accompanied by the raw voice of Taloch. Then we hear the drums. Soft at first, but slowly becoming louder and louder until the entire audience is swinging along. And just like that, the drums stop and it’s guitar only. But not for long, the bass and drums follow up quickly. They are taking the audience on a rhythmic journey, getting ready for the drop. People are living in the moment. They are in their own world. The band and the audience become one with the moment. You can hear the love with which the music is made, and you can see it, too. The Dolmen’s songs leave the audience in a trance. They are not here to dance, but to experience the music.
Towards the end, the party music comes along; Dead Cats Don’t Meow, Rebel Fairy Fling. A few conga lines swing through the concert hall and The Royal Spuds are dancing in the back. Tim Elfring, singer and percussionist at Pyrolysis, is invited by Taloch on stage. It’s the last song and he is dancing, singing and even drumming. The audience is desperate for more and an hour and a half of the Dolmen seems like no time at all. A few people continue dancing after the show is over. The trance of the Dolmen is far from over.
As I drive through the old streets of Wervik and the flatlands of Flanders I think back on tonight’s theater show. Contrary to usual, I’m driving in silence, as I don’t want anything to “contaminate” the sounds that are still resonating in my mind and in my heart.
How can I describe it to someone who wasn’t there? How can I convey the warmth and love that
brought to the room? How can mere words do justice to the depth and power that
official radiated from the stage?
Although I am often moved by beauty in any form I don’t consider myself an overly emotional man. But tonight I just couldn’t hold back the tears, even if I would have wanted to. Both performances were so full of beauty and love that I feel confident in saying that even Bragi himself would have shed a tear or two.
I want to thank everyone involved in making tonight what it was. I’m certain that I will keep the memory of this night locked in my heart for the rest of my days.
Ilona Vd Jagt-Esveld
Cesair & Irfan – Oskar
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, unfortunately we can’t be at every concert and we can’t review all of them. That is exactly why we got so excited when we saw this review of last Friday’s main event, the concert of Cesair combined with the Dutch album release concert of Irfan!
These two bands play a very deep style of music, heavily laden with emotion, and that is exactly how Oskar has reviewed it! His words will take you on a trip alongside the bands, through mystical times and epic tales, and they describe the sensation of the night perfectly!
Having experienced the wonder and amazement ourselves several times, it is awesome to read how someone else is moved by the music, especially someone as knowledgeable about the tales and meanings behind the songs as Oskar.
We are honoured that he offered his review for us to share with you and hope you will enjoy reading it as much as we have. Thank you again, Oskar!
Cesair and Irfan
Last Friday I did something I have not really done since I became father: I went out. The night before, I mobilized some of my dear dancing friends to attend a CD-release party with two music groups that create music that has become precious to me.
The first band is called
Their music is not very easy to classify. They tend to describe it as ‘epic’, because of the drama and the emotion they aim to transpose from a variety of ancient myths and legends. In 2013 they released their first album
Dies, Nox et Omnia,
which I think is one of the most advanced début albums I know of. The songs on it are very complexly composed, while still very symphonic and beautiful. The musicians are very talented and versatile, capable of playing multiple uncommon historical instruments as well as better known contemporary instruments. Their lead singer
Monique van Deursen
is able to flawlessly (as far as I can assess, of course) sing in a number of exotic languages, ranging from Swedish to Gaelic, to Arabic.
The themes of their music also dwell in my domain of interest.
The Wanderings of Oisín,
for example (though it was not played at the release party), is inspired upon W.B. Yeats’ recounting of the romantic Irish legend of Oisín through the fairy realm. I once wrote an essay on Yeats, because of his rich imagination and understanding of myth and magic. The song has a nice galloping cadans in it, which evokes the image of Oisín’s horse, that prevents the heroes’ feet from touching mortal soil.
A song that actually was played Friday was
I especially like the hammered dulcimer in it, played by my friend
Fieke van den Hurk.
Cesair performed the song together with the other band Irfan. It is about Ishtar, the Akkadian goddess of both love and war (incidentally, I wrote my bachelor thesis on Ishtar and other goddesses with these combined attributes). The song is very sensual and evokes images of the sacred temple in ancient Babylon.
The following song was called
It is the Babylonian creation story as we know it from clay tablets. The clip will speak for itself:
Cesair’s music is rich in beauty and evocation. And I think it deserves a bigger audience than it currently has. While the musicians were very sincerely grateful to the more-than-hundred people who came just to see them perform, I think many more people deserve to learn of their music. The music is very capable of moving the body, sometimes sensual, sometimes powerful. At times, it can also move the soul.
The following song is called
it is an Arab ode to music. It was the final song played at the gig, together with Irfan. (I especially like the dropping of the beat at 2:18).
I have known the Bulgarian group
for some years now, and I’ve always found their music very compelling. For reference, it is often compared with Dead Can Dance (but I do not know their music, save for the song that was covered by Irfan). Irfan’s music is, I think, less accessible than Cesair’s. Irfan’s music resonates on a deeper level, I think. Cesair’s music first moves the body, and spirit can follow, Irfan’s music touches the soul and the body may follow the motion. It is not too surprising that Irfan roots in Gnosticism.
Irfan’s performance is always very modest. The musicians seem stoic at times and they emanate much calmness (they seemed undisturbed by technical trouble). They always seem to be more in touch with their music than with the audience. But this never seems to matter, because when they play, the music is prevalent and takes the audience away. The music is very trance-like.
Irfan makes use of deep male vocals, sweeping female vocals, ethereal sound effects and traditional snare and wind instruments. I am very fond of their occidental and oriental sound. Most of their music is quite slow, though they also feature more sparkling and almost seductive songs.
The Golden Horn
is one of the more lyrical songs. It is my personal favourite. (Unfortunately my car had broken down, so I depended on crappy public transport and had to leave during the performance of this ultimate dancing tune, only to find out that no bus would be leaving at that time…)
Irfan’s songs often bear a message.
The Cave of Swimmers,
for example is about
the discovery of a cave in the Sahara,
wherein swimming people were depicted. The song is about the ephemeral nature aspect of our physical existence. Not even seas remain. The message is that we therefore should not focus so much on our personal existence, but should have a wider gaze.
Another song played was
The Eternal Return.
A song with a loving esoteric message and this Eastern sound that I’m so fond of.
There are many more songs I would have liked to share, but I hope to have sparked curiosity. I really enjoyed dancing to the music of both groups. They are manifesting beauty, and are re-enchanting our world in their own way.
not only wrote this review, he also writes frequently about a range of topics that inspire him to do so on his blog
named after the Celtic sun god Lugh (one of his many names).
There you can learn about his many faceted life: Oskar teaches philosophy of life at a high school, holds a master’s degree in Theology and Religious Studies, and is specialized in Western Esotericism and Mysticism, which as an elevator pitch, he usually describes as “anything that has to do with magic”. And his has (many) other creative outlets you can learn about!
Celt n Folk X
Remember that enthusiastic report that Jan van Offeren made for us of his visit to Trolls & Légendes? Well, he also visited CELT-N-FOLK at Poppodium De Meester in Almere, and he was just as enthusiastic in writing about that!
You can read about his first real encounter with Sowulo, about his relived RASTABAN experience and of course his love, Cesair, and how they once again rocked the stage with their musical perfection and their vibrant stage show.
Of course he also speaks of the performances in the smaller room by Tipsy Gipsy (BE) and Robert den Hartigh (NL), and also gives tips for those interested in going to the next edition of this great indoor festival.
Who among us dares to claim that indoor theaters are only a pass-time to ease the waiting for the outdoor festival power? Not me any more…certainly not after Carolien and I visited the, to us so far unknown, CELT-N-FOLK in Almere! This might just be the exception(al) to the rule, but at the risk of sounding like a cliché, nothing could be farther from the truth. It is a beautifully set up indoor festival, easily reachable and with loads of parking space, I’ll advise you to park in the nearby parking garage, cheap and safe!
The entrée fee was, especially in pre-sale, a nice and friendly €7, €10 at the door, for which one got to see and hear a lot of beauty! We were very much on time, partly because of an early departure, and partly because of the ease at parking. The doors opened on time by a friendly yet stern security guard. Just to be safe I had decided to wear my every day clothes and after my experience at Trolls et Légendes I had left my arms and armour at home. Carolien was allowed to bring in her (large) purse, even though it did have to get checked first.
The first room we entered was upstairs. It wasn’t overly large but decorated completely in Folk-style, immediately feeling very familiar. Drinks could be purchased with coins that could be bought from a machine. These could not be changed back for money at the end of the evening, which could be an inconvenience to all but regular visitors, as they would be able to use them on any other night. The music here that played between and after the performances was good and certainly adapted to the event, to give some examples: Irfan, Faun and Stellamara.
photo by Kees Stravers
Sowulo were the first to perform and gave a beautiful show, preceded by a gorgeous ritual. We had never seen them perform even though, at the advice of the “well informed” we had bought their music at the Gothic & Fantasy Beurs in Rijswijk. Their music, mainly instrumental, is very appealing! The live performance was very good, though just like with the other bands the transition from music into “the talk after the show” would leave us shaking from the bass, if just for a moment. But I’ll say that Sowulo is a great addition to our “knowledge bank of bands” with their mainly very calm music.
photo by Don Bakhuizen
photo by Karin Den Hartigh Zegers
During the breaks, because of the resetting of the main stage, one could enjoy performances by Tipsy Gipsy (BE) and Robert den Hartigh (NL) in the smaller room, which was certainly worth it. These will one day certainly outgrow these smaller rooms. Though I could not listen to everything completely due to circumstances, what the hammer and anvil in my ears did pick up certainly was a well-forged sound!
photo by Kees Stravers
The second act of the evening was RASTABAN. Just like during the previously mentioned Trolls & Légendes, where I saw them a first time, a very complete show where, despite the fact that this was an away game for the mainly Belgian band, they spoiled the crowd and really gave them lots of joy! I’m already anxiously awaiting there next CD, even though we only purchased our first one this evening! So RASTABAN, we will keep a close eye on you!
photo by Kees Stravers
As last act for this evening Cesair was to turn off the lights but, and I suspect some degree of chauvinism in this, before the lights went off (or on, actually) they did manage to energise the crowd even though they had been tired after a long night of Folk, and the audience spontaneously joined in all forms of joy and happiness. With their beautiful sounds, singing and show, and their joyful appearance, they brought the audience into motion and ecstasy, and they were rewarded (like the other artists) after an even more enthusiastically played encore with a long and amazing applause.
Whomever says that Pagan Folk isn’t much, I’ll certainly disagree with them, especially after an evening like this, with 3 bands of this calibre, and some great up and coming artists. I would recommend anyone to get to know this great music, and a world where one keeps meeting beautiful and happy people!
Thank you for reading this, and I hope to see you at a next festival, where we can just be ourselves and can be amazed that joy can be experienced in such a versatile way.