013; Tilburg, Netherlands; 01/24/06

Reviewed by Edwin Van Hoof

Stream of Passion is ready to conquer European with their first tour. The recently re-opened, legendary Dynamo Club in Eindhoven was the host for the debut appearance from mastermind Arjen 'Ayreon' Lucassen with his Stream of Passion.

Opening on the European tour is former Threshold/Landmarq shouter Damian Wilson, who was also one of the compelling faces on the Star One live project. Wilson, however, steers clear from his metallic roots playing an intimate and short acoustic set. Something the metal audience tonight seems unable to appreciate and judge on value, considering the lack of attention and ongoing murmur throughout the club. It forces Damian to make a wise decision and trim his setlist down to only fifteen minutes. It is only because of that I won't go into more detail on the friendly Englishman with the warm and powerful voice. 

The moment everyone is waiting for finally arrived: With thunderous noise and lots of lightning effects, the storm is about to rage onstage. The tension is building and the crowd is getting nearly insane before show-start. "Spellbound" and the powerful single output "Passion" are kicking into gear for a night to remember. Marcela not only shines on CD, but her strong personality and bewitching stage performance brings their music to life. The tiny Mexican vocalist swirls and drifts over the stage, her eyes and timid smile locking the attention of her audience, front to back. 

War sounds announce the Ayreon classic "Waracle," leading smoothly into the intimate piano semi-ballad "Wherever You Are." "Computer Eyes" (Ayreon) and "Calliopeia" lead us swiftly to another Ayreon classic, "Valley of the Queens." It is amazing to see how easily the band can shift between the more intimate and piano laden tracks from the Stream of Passion debut and the more progressive and metal oriented Ayreon material. The balance between songs from both era's of Lucassen's wide catalogue is exceptional.

"Haunted," with its hypnotizing marching intro, builds up the tension in which background vocalist Diana Bovio adds some extra spice. It is without doubt the powerful foundation provided by Davy Mickers (drums) and the explosive personality of Johan van Stratum (bass) that makes SOP grow with every song tonight. Count to that the exceptional razor-sharp shredding from guitarist extraordinaire Lori Linstruth, and the powerful riffing from Mastermind Arjen Lucassen himself, and you have a live act able to measure themselves with any band out there. Sure, a lot of fans came to see the master perform, and he is in tremendous shape! Smiling ear to ear the entire set, Lucassen is clearly enjoying himself. Being as professional as these musicians, even a faulty jack doesn't disturb the show at all.

Throughout the show, an amazing set list keeps surprising and unfolding its gifts. "Charm," "Deceiver/Songs of the Ocean," "Vigil" and "Pain" again lean strongly on the Ayreon era, where "Nostalgia" again is drop dead gorgeously performed by the crystal clear singing of Bovio. Alejandro Millán in the meanwhile keeps coloring the music with his keyboards and piano playing, enabling Stream of Passion to take dark and slightly classical course, and makes the sold out Dynamo dwell in sadness. The added electrical violin from Marcela empowers the mystique even more.

The hit single potential in "Out In the Real World" works towards a climax with the Ayreon classic "Castle Hall," marking the return of Damian Wilson onstage. Now he captures the crowd's attention! His loud and immaculate voice in combination with Bovio is simply sublime!

When the band leaves the stage, the audience is literally going insane. "Black Hole" with yet another shining appearance from Wilson, and the Led Zeppelin classic "When the Levee Breaks" simply add up to the atmosphere tonight. The sheer power unleashed by the battling guitars of Arjen and Lori marks them more metal than melancholic. 

A second encore follows with the immaculate title track of their "Embrace the Storm" CD and "Love" again from "The Human Equation." This time the band leaves the stage leaving behind an audience that realizes it has witnessed a night of magic with a band at the best of their being.

Though the Stream of Passion debut might have thrown some frowns here and there, the band proves themselves to be an exceptional live act. It was surprising to see the combination of Ayreon ("Human Equation"), Star One and Stream material being blended into a passionate and intimate metal show. The music truly came alive tonight and it marks the real quality of this band! 

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Copyright © 2006 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.