All good things come in threes. An old saying (it is in German, hopefully also in English). Time to fill it with life: after Utrecht (October 2022, TivoliVredenburg) and Weert (April 2023, De Bosuil) now the grand final of the “Tales From Six Feet Under – Live In Concert – Dutch Club Tour” at MEZZ in Breda.
The journey by car to Breda was rather exhausting – arrival on Friday seemed a good idea to guarantee a day of relaxation before the concert. But late afternoon through the Netherlands the traffic was rather suboptimal. No less than 8h30min at the end for 560km. “Exhausting” seems an appropriate term there.
In contrast to my Weert review, I come straight to the point – the concert. Special guest aka support act was again Blackbriar. This time the bass player was with them. Was it because of his live playing that I found the music even better this time than in Weert? And what is the appropriate word for Zora’s vocals? “Enchanting” is probably a good one. I feel like I’m already on my way to join the Blackbriar fandom – the Blackbriar fans were again present in quite large numbers, a loyal fanbase is always a good sign. Only the thing with the “Dutch Clubtour” they didn’t embrace fully: Zora’s language of choice between the songs was English. Good for me!
The beginning of Blackbriar playing started for me with a 20-second-storm-in-my-brain. “Wow, the stage looks much smaller than in De Bosuil. Oh, why is the mixing so bad? You can hardly hear Zora’s wonderful voice. Wait, why are there three guys with guitars, there were only two in Weert? That’s right, there was one missing for the classic lineup 2x guitar 1x bass, why do I only notice that now? No wonder, one more, who also moves a lot, of course the stage looks smaller then!” Then the guy at the mixing desk adjusted the controls properly, placed Zora’s voice appropriately in the mix, and I switched to just enjoying the rest of the performance without thinking about unimportant and distracting details.
Amusing incident during one of Zora’s announcements: “The next song is…I don’t know (puts on lovely smile and goes briefly to the back to look at the setlist)”. I spare myself and the inclined readers (do you feel the optimism? Plural! “The readers”!) here the obvious pun with “Blackout”. Ooops, didn’t work. Anyway, it almost seemed to me that this non-event set a bit of a tone for the whole evening: relaxed feel-good atmosphere, as one would wish for the end of a tour. Not that there was a lack of excitement and drive, quite the opposite – but there was such a relaxedness, such a lightness, a great “flow”. Bonus points to Zora for omitting the strange deer-like headgear that kind of…irritated me in Weert.
Despite the high quality support act – of course you usually come for the main act. Shortly after 21.30h it was time: Charlotte and band entered the stage. Before that there was an animation on the big screen aka “the big round thing in the middle” of the Charlotte figure from the Superhuman video, which slowly got bigger, probably symbolizing the main event closing in. It’s just the lovely details that fascinate the inclined viewer, and if I remember correctly, it was also new compared to the Weert concert. So not only lovely details, but also lovely detail optimization during the ongoing tour.
The setlist (according to my memory…errors are completely my fault):
- Ouverture (with Claire)
- Human To Ruin
- The Phantom Touch
- Venus Rising
- Source Of The Flame
- Cry Little Sister
- Good Dog
- Toxic (harsh vocals by George)
- Mary On A Cross (Ghost cover, duet with Zora, and Eli on Cello)
- I Forget (with Eli on cello)
- Victor (with Eli on cello, and Claire)
- A Million Lives
- FSU (2020)
- The Final Roadtrip (with Eli on cello)
- Soft Revolution
- Against All Odds
- All You Are
The connoisseur notices small deviations from the Weert setlist. “The Phantom Touch” has moved more to the start, and the duet with Aafke Romeijn (“Alles wat ik wil”) has been replaced by the duet with Zora (“Mary On A Cross”, a cover version of the Ghost original) as previously announced. In my opinion, this now leaves Aafke with the honourable third place in the eternal live-duet-with-Charlotte ranking, because Charlotte with Zora…that’s just great stuff. And one more side note: there was a preponderance of female musicians on stage for this one song. Sophia, Eli, Zora and Charlotte made it a 4:3, which I’m sure was an important item on the Wessels bucket list.
But let’s start at the beginning. Business language was again Dutch, as it should be for a “Dutch Club Tour”. Charlotte charmingly recommended to those not versed in Dutch to engage a personal translator from the audience, which did not lead to resounding success for me personally (but thankfully important details could be clarified afterwards in Discord – thanks to clearing things up!). “Claire,” for the uninitiated, is Charlotte’s clarinet. She perfected playing the clarinet at the conservatory, and has jokingly remarked that it’s a rather awkward instrument for a singer. But she tries to incorporate Claire into performances whenever possible. “Eli”, on the other hand, is a real person, Elianne Anemaat, who with her cello gives the very special magic to some of the songs. Also to the duet.
The newly formed song duo consisting of “Afkicken” and “The Phantom Touch” brought speed and some hardness after “Superhuman” – in my opinion a good change in the setlist. And especially “Afkicken” – next to me someone said “That’s the Dutch song” – it grows more and more to my heart in the live version, also thanks to the dancers’ performance. And I had the feeling that Charlotte was in “FSU mode” from here on and put even more power into the songs than usual. “Venus Rising” was also great – again. The announcement for “Good Dog” seemed to be very amusing for the Dutch-speaking part of the audience, if I understood it correctly the new Patron tradition of “Meows” instead of “awooing” was also brought up. And then with “Toxic” the guest appearance of George for the harsh vocals. Along with a dance interlude. Then “Mary On A Cross” together with Zora – already mentioned above, but worth mentioning again. The two voices harmonise so perfectly, the song arrangement fits so perfectly – one (that means me!) is searching in vain for further adjectives that do justice to the beauty of the thing.
When Otto takes off his jacket before the encores and rocks on in his red shirt, you know that it’s getting serious business and at the same time, unfortunately, it’s nearing the end of a wonderful evening.
“FSU” was again a real highlight. Charlotte was absolutely in “we’re knocking the place down now” mode and put on a performance…wow. Even if – criticism on a very high level, my nitpicking nature kicks in – maybe a few times the power goes at the expense of the absolute vocal precision.
I have never really taken note of “Combustion” in the Delain context. But when Timo and Joey together with Otto go all in – that’s true Rock’n’Roll. And only a short stop on the way to the finale called “The Final Roadtrip”, which I like more in the live arrangement with the heavier guitar.
The final song before the encore is – can you already say “traditionally” after only five concerts? – “Soft Revolution”. I have already praised this song extensively and I consider it a masterpiece. But the live performance is something even more special: at the end there is the three-part Charlotte voice via the looper, and then Timo continues playing alone with the guitar – one of the numerous goosebump moments during this concert. And then after that “Against All Odds” – in the acoustic trio formation, the quiet piece before the grand finale with “All You Are” with another attempt to elicit some singing from the crowd. I’d be really interested to know how that sounded on stage…from my position it sounded – how shall I put that in a nice way – not too convincing. Blame it on me.
And then it was over. Two hours of music and show were over in no time at all – time just flies when you witness such great events. And you wish you had a video recording to relive the moment over and over again. Lacking that, unfortunately, I have to rely on the known inadequacies of my brain. May this review help to keep the memories alive.
Charlotte’s concert closing speech was very emotional, the last concert of a tour is always something special. Now it’s back to the studio for Charlotte, working on the new album, and I’m already curious when I can enjoy it. And I’m sure that everyone present at this concert will also visit the hopefully following tour. Charlotte has already hinted several times that she now wants to create a “traditional” album, with long writing sessions to create songs that fit together, reworking details until you’re 100% happy with the result, taking your time. I’m a classic album listener and traditionalist, but I couldn’t find any deficiencies in e.g. the song-to-song flow of the Tales From Six Feet Under albums, everything fits together perfectly from my point of view – how could that possibly get any better? It will be also interesting to see to what extent existing Songs Of The Month will appear in revised form on the new album. What could be possibly improved on “Chasing Sunsets” or “The Butterfly Effect” or “Vigor & Valor” or “Fool’s Parade”? I don’t know, they already sound perfect to me. That’s why it’s so exciting. Whereby of course “instruments played by real musicians instead of using Cubase plug-ins” promises some potential for improvement.
After the concert, on my way to the hotel, there were again those post-concert earworms that Charlotte planted in my head – this time, “Victor” and “A Million Lives”. Humming the melodies the whole time. Why is it always different songs? Probably because the list of potential earworms has a lot of entries. For me, that’s also part of the Charlotte magic.
Abrupt change of subject. The drive back home was much better. Sunny, dry, overall 6h15 (including breaks). I consider the Autobahn rehabilitated. At least on Sundays. Slight catch: 5h30 pure driving time is too long for the “Charlotte Wessels Songs of the Month” playlist – even if you repeat “Chasing Sunsets” a few times. 2h39min is currently the length of the playlist with all 38 Songs of the Month. So about 3h are still missing, which translates to a whopping 45 classic 4min songs. Way to go, Charlotte! Alternatively, of course, a concert slightly more nearby would be a possible solution to this dilemma. Other possible solutions like epic prog-rock song lengths…I don’t want to give anyone wrong ideas.
Arrived at home, got out of the car, and two completely different songs were in my head for the rest of the evening: “Wees Liever Boos” (one of the “Lost Songs Of The Month” that will probably never be played live – when would it have been a better fit than during this “Dutch” club tour?) and the already mentioned “Chasing Sunsets”, the latest Song Of The Month. If the latter isn’t on the next album and features prominently on the setlist of the next tour, I will FSU.
So only one final question remains: who is this George guy? Judging by the crowd reaction, he seemed to be well-known, but of course not to me. A little research, Charlotte’s post-concert Instagram post intelligently interpreted, 3 and 7 added together…my guess with 98.3% certainty is George Oosthoek, one of the singers of MaYan. I’ll keep trying to become an expert on Dutch music celebrities, even if I don’t see much hope for completing that task this decade.