On September 20, 2019, the prog metal triple „RENDEZVOUS POINT, ARCH ECHO & VOLA“ was stopping by in Munich during their European tour. Unfortunately, a lot of other bands were playing in Munich on the same day, such as Riverside, and the visitors were spread in the different locations. Many had a hard time deciding which band/concert to attend. Therefore, the location was filled but not packed that day, which was really a pity.
Yet alone the first band RENDEZVOUS POINT was worth the ticket price of 20 EUR. None less than world drum championship winner Baard Kolstad (also known from LEPROUS) is part of that Norwegian prog band who have just released their new album “Universal Chaos”. At 8 p.m. RENDEZVOUS POINT was inaugurating the evening with “Digital Waste”, a song about the youth of today being slaves of their smartphones and other digital origins. The sound was brilliant and from the first moment on it was apparent that the musicians are highly qualified on their instruments. Their playing was as tight and exact as it can be. Even tricky parts as in “Pressure” they handled skilled and passionately. Vocalist Geirmund Hansen was making the show interesting by his stage presence and the way he expressed the mood of the songs: touching his band mates’ heads, almost screaming at them, if the music demanded him to, forcing his gestures and mimic art on the fans in the crowd, feeling free to sit or lie on stage, looking either grim or deepened, depending on the song. Especially the song „Apollo“ was causing goose bumps among the listeners.
Bassist Gunn-Hilde Erstad took care of a crackling bass groove while tracks such as “Wasteland” or the title track of their new album “Universal Chaos” were blasting through the speakers. Guitarist Petter was completely engaged to the music and was providing a vigorous show. Baard Kolstad was completing this passionate bunch with his own unique, lively drum style. Unfortunately, keyboard player Nicolay Tangen Svennaes couldn’t make it to this tour and was replaced by Auver Gaaren.
Much to the visitors’ regret, the band was given only a slot of half an hour, so “Mirrors” marked the end of this energetic show. Undoubtedly, every attendant of this gig would confirm that RENDEZVOUS POINT does have headliner qualities. VOLA had to face some serious competition with their Scandinavian friends.
After this furious performance, the instrumental/prog/fusion band ARCH ECHO didn’t have an easy task to surpass the previous high-quality band. But this didn’t lower the band’s josh on stage. The Americans were cheerful and didn’t get tired of following their catchphrase “Shred”, bringing a good mood to the crowd, even if some left the location for the bar. ARCH ECHO was serving the more technical side of prog this evening, and obviously they infected the remaining audience with their enthusiasm. Captivating guitar tunes, virtuous keyboard melodies and very devoted drumming were giving their fans a good time. They were a welcome change in between the Scandinavian impacts.
Around 10 p.m. Danish prog metal shooting stars VOLA entered the stage. In the past they have made a name for themselves by diligent touring as support act. But now finally their time has come and with this tour they entered the headliner position. VOLA knew how to use this fully by compiling an excessive setlist that even contains songs from their early EPs, such as “Black Box”. But of course they put the main focus on their previous two albums “Applause Of A Distant Crowd“ and „Inmazes“. Especially with demanding tracks such as the fancy “Smartfriend” or the blandishing “Alien Shivers” they could proof their incredible live qualities to the audience. Even the very emotional song “Vertigo” was part of the setlist and surprisingly drummer Adam Janzi was contributing additional singing to this as well. Apart from that, Adam left a notable impression with his drum skills. Even Baard Kolstad calls him an inspiration for his unique style of using the drum sticks.
VOLA knew well how to alternate between their soft songs and their freaky headband songs. All members were being highly professional with their instruments, and the passion VOLA showed, was looking for their equals. This show made sense from the first to the final moment.
Nevertheless, a hollow aftertaste accompanied the evening for the fact that the location was too empty for such a good tour retinue. But then again it showed the intrinsic value of all the bands, because they didn’t lower their energy on stage, but played the gig as if they were performing for a crowded festival. Having varified their sincerity that way, it is to be hoped that we can see these bands more often in the future.
Author & photo: Uta Arnold