Mr. Punch plays Fugazi, 6 maart 2016. For years I've visited 't Blok in Nieuwerkerk aan de IJssel. Somehow this venue started inviting progressive bands once a month on a sunday afternoon.
Heavily subsidized, because it's almost for free en to top it all off, they even hand out free canapé's. That wasn't always to my liking, because usually, as it happens in progressive rock, the tray comes 'round at the moment supreme. Having said that, they're always tasty and it's a sign of warm hospitality. The people working at 't Blok are very driven. It feels like one big family and since I have no family of my own, I came to view them as mine.
Thus I couldn't believe my luck when I saw the announcement of Mr. Punch, a Marillion tribute band from Italy, and this in the weekend of my birthday. Needless to say I checked them out via Youtube first, because I've seen coverbands quite often and many of them turned out to be, to put it mildly, disappointing, but I knew that Progfrog, the organisation at Nieuwerkerk, doesn't just invite any band to come and play. The musicians in Mr. Punch are all top notch and play in other bands like The Watch as well.
I didn't waste much time thinking about it nor did I look on Youtube for much longer, because the sound quality there is dismally bad. They were playing Fugazi because of the work's jubilee. I'm not sure whether it was played integrally or just a few songs, but after having heard 'Misplaced Childhood' so many times this year, I was ready for something new.
Finally the day arrived. Good thing I left home early, because I'd forgotten about the CPC run, an annual local running event. I might have been better to arrive even later, because I was exactly on time to be serenaded with 'Happy birthday to you' and congratulated on my 40th birthday.
My best prog friend did however and we visit concerts at De Boerderij in Zoetermeer on a regular basis and he knows Mr. Punch's band members from various other bands. Of course the regular concert gang was there as well as members from Background Magazine so it was fine the way it was.
The first notes rang out: Assassing... goosebumps everywhere and they stayed with me throughout the concert. There's just no way around it. A first I wondered whether it was the wine that brought them on or the fact it was my birthday and of course they are contributing factors, but Mr. Punch's bandmembers are fabulous musicians and played the songs like I'd never heard them played before. The only thing closer to the original is Marillion itself.
The young female guitarist Marcella Arganese....unbelievable. A female Rothery! I've seen a lot of bands and rarily get goosebumps from the guitar player but Marcella Arganese was responsible for a total outbreak. Singer Alessandro Corvaglia wears make-up like Fish did. He doesn't resemble the big man in any way, but his voice definitely does!
I felt somewhat uncomfortable by it all, but it was very sweet of them. I invited all my Marillion friends on Facebook, but sadly non of them showed up. The band didn't play Fugazi integrally. There had been quite some changes in the setlist. For instance Cinderella Search and Chelsea Monday made an appearance in between the Fugazi songs, but I didn't mind. It goes without saying they played Misplaced Childhood, and to my amazement all of side A. After that: Script, Incubus, Fugazi... I don't have to tell you it was a script out of a dream. As an encore they played Garden Party, Market Square Heroes and Forgotten Sons. I believe the band played for two hours non-stop.
Opinions differ about coverbands and whether or not you have to approach the real thing as closely as possible. I have no opinion on that matter whatsoever. I like home made arrangements, but when you manage to get so close or even closer to the real band at the same time, that is one great feat. Everyone in the audience agreed this band surpassed Fish or Marillion or The Steve Rothery Band. To perform songs from the Fish era it's paramount to add theatricality, something Martin Jakubski does too little, but Mr. Punch does superbly. You think yourself in days of old. Besides, Mr. Punch is a Marillion tribute band and not a coverband. The difference? A tribute band salutes the original. The original in this case being Fish.
After the concert pictures were taken and Mr. Punch too gave some attention to my birthday halfway through the set. Not that I'm a well-known person, but I was the only fan on Facebook to bring attention to the concert. To top it all, I was rewarded with the band's cd. Not all the pictures came out well, but the ones with Alessandro and Joost, my favourite bartender, did
What a day! One to cherish forever...
Mr. Punch will be performing again on October 16th in Ommen (of all places). I won't be able to attend but anyone who has room in their diaries: go see them! To 'The Web Holland': please invite them again! For a Garden Party in summer perhaps? Janke Rijpkema.