Exclusive | Elegy Reunion Road Report
Training my way to Eindhoven in 20 minutes, the walk to the infamous Dynamo club is one in drizzling rain. High-paced I get myself to the club so familiar to the band, and part of their legacy. Playing their hometown almost relentlessly in the 90s as support of many, Elegy established themselves as one of the hottest bands in the area. A label that would do them justice soon after as one of the fastest selling acts in Dutch history breaking into the Japanese charts topping Aerosmith’s ‘Get a Grip’ in its debut week. Yes, they did!
Future prospects were allover great and the rise was impressive. Selling out venues on their brief Japanese stints, the band always returned home to Dynamo to either perform or hang with friends. Cycles unbroken, the band stayed loyal to their city and today’s reunion is nothing short of a celebration of their return to the fold as well as a visit to the past. Though the original Dynamo was torn down, the new rebuilt venue is located on that same spot, making their reunion go full circle. Home once again, playing their beloved venue and performing on the new stage in the same time…
OLD FRIENDS CATCHING UP
I enter the building welcomed by Henk with an intense hug. It’s been almost 25 years since we last met and old habits die hard, making me feel part of the family immediately.
Hugs, dozens of them, making my way to greet everyone in the empty arena. Soon enough Henk enters the stage he left for so long, warming up. His graceful style is still impeccable, touching the strings with impressive precision. He is at home on stage. He is back where he belongs, the stage he walked away from so long ago.
“I don’t wanna do an interview about what’s in the past…” he presses onstage. When I ask why not, he starts to doubt. “It is old friends catching up”, I ad quickly, to which he agrees, but only if I won’t get too much into detail. “For everyone’s sake Henk, I will do just that!”. “You have to share the story in order to close the book and put a lid on the past…” I urge. He grins and agrees, warming up his speedy fingers flying up the fretboard of his old and worn ESP.
The damage on his guitar is the patina of life, he laughs. That laugh, his dismantling smile, sincere and honest. It is exactly what he left as a mark on the band and his legacy. A smile above the tear. It is the mark of a true-at-heart musician so disappointed in the business.
Drummer Dirk Bruinenberg and guitarist Gilbert Pot arrive at the venue while Martin and I discuss the unforeseen agreement of Henk on the exclusive interview. “I’m surprised, but then again: I’m not”, he says. We go back forever, and I have heard all the stories, lived through the events knowing a lot of the details about the iconic rise and sudden fall of the band. Something we will get into deeper during the interview later that day.
For now, there’s a lot to do. Dirk’s drums carried into the venue, find their way to the stage. Endorsed by Britisch Drum Co. he brings a wonderful set to the stage. Building, it becomes inevitably clear he is one of the most respected drummers in today’s scene. Amedia cymbals are secured onto their stands, and his kit built the Balbex sticks are put on top of his snaredrum as the final touch. Drum tech Jan ads his final touches while Martin is pulling the strings of his slick-looking Warwick bass. The shiny elements and hardware are radiant when the lights hit.
SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE
Old times; Henk fiddling and freckling is heavy and loud, blasting from his amps when Dirk fine tunes his kit. The annoyed short burst is what makes me love these guys. The inevitable drummer – guitarist rift that is present in every band. Brief and bitchy, but followed by the chuckle, shaking shoulders with a smile when Henk dials back on the volume. Laughter. Martin looks at me opening, “Some things never change…” he shakes his shoulders when he pulls his notes. “Too much high?”
I don’t hear him. Gilbert is warming up and his amp is facing me. The guitarist tunes his guitar and adjusts settings. Soon enough they align and Henk and Gilbert start to fire away their piercing shreds.
Joined by Martin, while Dirk still tunes his drum set, things feel more familiar with every note played. It is impressive to hear the musical wizardry, closely aligned…. Or drifting off in different directions. Brisk and brief fragments of songs fly by when the band loosens their fingers. The interaction is tremendous, camaraderie on all accounts. It is what I missed for a long time, present during their founding days and their rise.
Childish behavior, another side of the band. Murky and funny remarks constantly. Especially when Ian enters the stage. This dude is the bringer of evil, referring to his farts. “Those silent ones that suddenly hit you when you’re performing…”. Ian bursts into laughter. “You damn right they reek!”.
It is this moment their road manager and sound engineer Niels Jensen calls them to order. The man is famous for his strict time keeping, applied during the Ayreon stints and many others, establishing him as one of the best in his craft. Calling Elegy to order is something else though. This band has endured the heaviest of storms and withstood various tidings, all with the here for mentioned camaraderie and true friendship (which never faded).
Counting off, Dirk kicks in ,,Trust”, followed by the band. Henk delves into one of his guitar frenzies with Gilbert adjoining following is lead. Messy, sloppy they tower into their riffs and solo while the rest just looks at them in despair. “Like I said, some things just never change”, Martin states into his mic amused. It is a wakeup call that aligns the band that soon enough sees flawless interpretations of their classics. Niels calls to order again to have the mixing board balanced and asks for guitars left, guitars right, to have the balance perfected.
BALANCE IN ORDER
It is the moment to isolate, bass drums, floors and toms briefly, followed by a sudden salvo of drums that Bruinenberg fires away. Double bass is powerful blasting and floors and fills are in place before he hits the crash and ride cymbal to emphasize the hard ride. Balance in order the band delves into another one of their classics and ,,Take My Love” sounds thunderous and warm. Mic checks follow for a second repetition of the song before things get moved around.
Amps get tilted and moved in a different angle to not have them interfere the overall sound or causing feedback. Some more brief mic checks for backing vocals while stage lights are adjusted. The whole team is on par now and the intro tape of ,,Equinox” is started with the band bursting into laughter as they remember their maiden performance at the Italian Loud ‘n Proud Festival in Milan, Italy on October 22nd.
Restart of the ominous pompous intro has Dirk counting off once again and the band delivers a spot-on version of show opener ,,Trust”, with Martin walking off stage to check the sound in the venue, playing. He nods at Niels as a sign of approval while promoter and stage hand Sjerruf films bits and pieces of the soundcheck to post online.
Opening act of the evening Starscream entered the venue awaiting their soundcheck checking out the headliner. Elegy is adding accolades and fine tunes their appearance, going through the motions one more time. Under attention of their supporting band they call it quits, high-fiving and fist-pumping to acknowledge their approval of the soundcheck.
DEVIL IN THE DETAIL
This is the time of laugher as they retract to their dressing room where critical notes are brought forward. Devil in the detail of these musicians and perfectionists-at-heart. Killing time we paw back to their heydays and address the many circumstances leading to the band’s line-up changes. Many names from the past pass and events come to the spotlight. There’s a lot of laughter sharing stories. Unknown situations, remarkable moments many might expect from a Spinal Tap movie rather than from a serious band rising through the ranks. Booker Ludy comes in making the band aware of another gig being scheduled. A festival appearance around which they can start planning more gigs travelling back and forth. The window of opportunity widens on the European mainland.
With the Progpower concert in the US also confirmed and concerts in Japan in the making, Elegy is zooming in on the roadmap to their European reunion shows while travelling from Greece and Italy through Spain and Germany. Taking shape, their booker is working hard to also have the band on the bill at numerous festivals to spread the word.
Killing time, the band and the entourage chat and share drinks, raising glasses in the wait. In the background Dutchman Max Verstappen is leading the field in the Brazilian Grand Prix on Interlagos, a next win in the making. “Let’s go for pole tonight”, someone calls out, much to approval of the band and crew, as fists fly up. In the meanwhile, dinner is being served in the canteen with everyone joining. It is a gathering of friends again sharing stories.
Niels’ saying “The meat is still out of the doghouse” is a phrase causing laughter, but also emphasizing the current state of the band. Better than anything else, as a matter of fact. There’s a lot going on, and it is time to get the focus right and tight. They agree to get things right this time. Salad, stew and potatoes gratin on their plates, the band grows together closely.
Niels quickly runs by how the band should enter the stage. Little rundowns of their appearance. Checking the boxes; who starts the intro tape, and who heads onto the stage first. “How many hits as count off?”. Simple things. Dotting the i. Raising glasses, they find themselves in a good place, after having been apart for so long. “After Party at The Jack!”, Henk shouts. “Have a beer or two together…”. Most agree, some have to travel. It introduces the clock ticking towards showtime.
ELEGY OFFICIAL FIRST INTERVIEW
When we return to the dressing room, Henk, Martin and me get together for the official first interview with the axe master. The first time he opens on the story of his departure and the band, his brainchild, being left alone just before their big break.
It is an open and honest conversation in which Martin refrains from adding his side of the story frequently. He sees his friend opening up and sharing, for the first time. Sharing while slowly and surely being made aware of the moment of glory about to come. It is time to get ready, time to check out Starscream, time to charge the engines and loosen stiffness. Warming up….
ELEGY HERE THEY COME
We count down towards the moment and (of course) there is one guy missing, as usual. With only five minutes to showtime we have to get Ian from the dressing room (“Usually he is taking a dump though!”), just in time for the band to start their countdown. Adrenaline rushes and tension builds. Muscles tense, pacing back and forth while time is drawing near. One quick and intense hug, one more picture to refocus and let off steam.
,,Equinox” roars from the P.A.-system and the lights dim while Henk looks around the doorpost to check out the audience. Handshakes as I head out frontstage…. Here they come!!!
All photos by Edwin van Hoof