MaYaN - LIVE: Escape Veenendaal 2011

Quarterpast Tour
Veenendaal - May 14
Capacity 300

Prior to the band's official presentation in Amsterdam, MaYaN chose to do two warmup shows over the weekend prior. Whilst their unofficial debut was held in Rotterdam, the second biggest city in the country, the second was situated in a much smaller place. Veenendaal is a town in the Utrecht province, a rather pretty town with a very friendly and helpful local population, albeit a town that's rather easy to get lost in.

The venue itself, the Escape, is surprisingly small for a band led by Epica guitarist Mark Jansen. With a capacity of only 300, the venue is small but cosy. Sadly it also suffers from some of the typical European issues – like half pint cups of beer, something the British simply aren't used to. That being said, as a venue it serves its purpose well, with a decent sound and a good atmosphere.

First on are Germany's Sons of Seasons, playing to a half full venue. The big surprise tonight (or maybe not, if you've been paying attention to Kamelot's touring schedule), is that the band's founder Oliver Palotai isn't actually with the band tonight. This is rather odd given that some might consider him to be the band, but apparently this isn't the case. Certainly from watching the band without him, it seems that singer Henning Basse has everything under control. Henning certainly proves to be a very talented singer and performer, engaging with the audience despite the language gap. The audience seems a bit divided as to whether they are entertaining or not, with half the audience not entirely sold.

Frankly though Sons of Seasons are on top form despite the handicap of missing its most known member. The band storm through a brief set, half taken from the band's debut and half from the band's latest release. It's the material from Magnisphyricon that shines through the best, especially songs like the magnificent Lilith. Though, having said that, Henning doesn't seem so sure whether or not that album is even out! Either way, there's perhaps no surprises being pulled, but as a support band Sons of Seasons are terrific.

As the intro tape signals the arrival of headliners MaYaN, there's a certain air of suspense before the band take to the stage. Certainly those who might have heard the band's promo before this evening will know what to expect. However, for the majority of the crowd the band are treading into new territory.

It is probably just as well, as whilst MaYaN's music is chaotic but stunning, the band's setlist is very much as expected. Ignoring a cover of Epica's Instinct (a heavy death metal track at the end of Design Your Universe), the band's setlist starts at the beginning of the album and simply runs through it. There's a noticeable exclusion – the lack of Laura Macrí tonight means the operatic midway track Essenza Di Te is missing. But otherwise, if you're familiar with the album, the setlist doesn't offer any real surprises.

The audience, however, is not familiar with this album. Their reaction perhaps is exactly as keyboardist Jack Driessen himself put it: some love it, appreciating the heavier style, whilst some don't quite get it. There's a few people who do seem to give up and walk away, not impressed with the much heavier band. However, there's plenty of people in the audience who, despite knowing little of the material, are very much into what the band are doing.

Perhaps the most important thing from the perspective of someone who does know the material though, is how the differences between this band and Mark's other band become much more apparent. Mark more or less dominates the stage, and the band sound noticeably heavier and more aggressive live than they do on record. Simone Simons effectively has the role of backing singer here – never leaving her corner behind the microphone – and alongside Laura, the band's third female singer Floor Jansen is nowhere to be seen. Henning returns for his second set tonight, and whilst the singer's natural charisma is still evident, he is more or less playing second fiddle to Mark. This is far from a problem though – whilst Mark is an awesome guitarist, he looks very much in his element just singing and performing. Being the frontman seems very natural to him, and the cheering from the crowd proves it.

Despite what feels like a short set in a small and undersold venue, tonight proved to be a decent warm up show for the much larger Paradiso. Not all of Epica's fanbase, and certainly not everyone in attendance tonight, will get MaYaN. However, one can't deny that as performers the band are tight, focused and energised. Tonight was only the beginning.

“ heavier and more aggressive live ”

Setlist: Intro / Symphony of Aggression / Mainstay of Society / Quarterpast / Course of Life / The Savage Massacre / Bite the Bullet / Drown the Demon / Celibate Aphrodite / War on Terror / Incentive (Epica Cover) / Tithe / Sinner's Last Retreat

Photo(s): Evelyn Steenberghe | www.vlien.net

Written by James Donovan
More: 2011, Death Metal, Gigs, Symphonic,

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