Nirwana’s annual garden party has been emphasizing both words over the years. The party in the back garden of the infamous Nirwana club has been hosting up and coming talent alongside settled names from the firmament for over years. The stage being surrounded by large trees, it breathes a mystical atmosphere, unknown to any other festival in the Netherlands. Once the sun sets, the surroundings are lit up magically with colored spotlights accentuating the trees’ outline and leaves overhead. Colorful dangling chandeliers in between the tall oaks are adding up furthermore to this exceptional festival experience.
On this stage, in front of a sold out audience which has sustained severe rain showers throughout the day, Vandenberg’s Moonkings are scheduled for one of their last festival appearances of 2014. The end of festival season drawing near, Moonkings managed to sustain outrageous reviews soon finding themselves the rising stars of the European hardrock scene, on nearly every festival stage in the Netherlands.
The pumping intro-tones increase tension on the festival ground which is packed solid with fans and partying locals from the area, a tough crowd to win over. This however doesn’t seem to impress the this young and eager band for a second. Moonkings enter the stage and radiate tremendous charisma and unwithheld energy, set free through the huge soundsystem. “Line of Fire” spits from the PA and the Flying Dutchman is grinning widely throughout the set. He unleashes his typical riffs and solos hitting us like a freighttrain. Vandenberg’s guitar is mixed into the sound without hardly any effects; clean, raw and vibrant. A bluesy sound reminiscent to that of the band he lent his talents to during their heydays; Whitesnake. Youngsters Mart Nijen-Es (dr.) and Sem Christoffel (b) are laying down a rock solid foundation pumping up the vintage grind of the Moonkings. “Steal Away” and the “Leave this Town” with it’s throbbing riff energize the audience and catapult the Moonkings into orbit. Jan Hoving’s somewhat static stage presence has improved significantly as he hip-thrusts the microphone stand along to the gritty riff. This in combination with the man’s dismantling honesty and amazing vocal performance sets the field on fire. His wide range and distinguished roar turn up the bluesy feeling a not as the show continues with the energetic “Feel It”. “Close to You” perfectly paves the way for one of the highlights of tonight’s set.“Judgement Days” comes blasting from the speakers and Adrian makes a statement with this dry and choking version of the Whitesnake classic. His Kashmir-infested riff is delivered in a stop-and-go motion hitting us full frontal. The celestial groove is vividly revived by the throbbing bass and hard hits of powerhouse Nijen-Es, while Hoving’s cask-aged vocals stand out gracefully. But of course it is Vandenberg himself who seizes the spotlight flexing his fretboard skills. Mr. vdB is clearly enjoying himself as he swings his Les Paul up and down while scattering his licks over the festival ground. His energy and pleasure rubs off on the other band members and the audience, especially when Vandenberg his “Burning Heart” is announced. The song is provided a new arrangement more suitable for Moonkings and Hoving.
With the last tones of the celebrated power-ballad dying out, the pace goes up with the soulful “Good Thing”, followed by a gritty and taunting version of “Lust and Lies”, packing an even harder punch live. The song picked up by US music enthusiasts magazine as one of the most memorable tracks of 2014, highlighting the jaw-dropping quality of this live cracker. The rip roaring vocals in combination with the powerful riff and bass line unites the audience in defiant air punching as fists fly up high.
With the audience participating and devil’s horns spotted throughout the field, Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” is the right track to furthermore increase the enthusiasm. The all time rock classic leads us into “Nothing Touches”, the band’s last strike in this 55 minutes action packed set.
Vandenberg’s Moonkings delivers, no questions asked!
Powerful and melodic, with a raw edge and bluesy grind it was pitch perfect. A stellar performance with passion and energy in abundance. Thus the band reinstalls one of rocks finest musicians at the top ranks of the scene.
1. Line of Fire
2. Steal Away
3. Leave This Town
4. Feel It
5. Close to You
6. Judgement Day
7. Burning Heart
8. Good Thing
9. Lust and Lies
10. Here I Go Again
11. Nothing Touches
Edwin van Hoof