November 11th 2022, Mystery at De Pul, Uden.
A Mystery concert is always a party and I've never been disappointed afterwards because this really is one of the best live bands I know. I had last seen them in 2019, at the time on the occasion of their latest album Lies & Butterflies. A great album and a logical continuation of the great quality series from One among the Living via The World is a Game and their, in my opinion best album, Delusion Rain.
We can say that they have a special bond with the Netherlands and certainly with some very loyal and fanatical fans (Ada, right?) and that means that they have given three shows in our little country. Contrary to my expectation, the first show was immediately in their Second Home, de Boerderij in Zoetermeer. Then a few shows in Germany and also one in Arnhem. This performance was the last one in Holland during their mini tour and so surprisingly enough in Uden, so far unknown to them. I chose this one myself because of the distance and the fact that it was on Friday. I did wonder if three times wasn't to much, but the fact that there were about four hundred people proved me wrong.
No new album, that is expected around March next year, and still a tour? Very nice for us fans of course, but you could notice that there was almost nothing to score in terms of merchandise. Where on the previous tour they sold beautiful T-shirts in colours other than the eternal black, there was actually nothing here except some CDs and LPs, which most fans already have at home. Since we could not have bought a shirt in 2019, our size was already sold out, in Arnhem (next time bring a little more in other colours), unfortunately we had to pass here too. So no sponsoring this time.
However, it was not as if there were no new songs to be heard at all. The advanced new single Behind the Mirror was played somewhere halfway and promises a lot of good for the new album. It is a somewhat shorter song but it does contain all the Mystery features and of course a wonderful solo by Michel St. Pere. This man plays so very well and is also the big engine of this Canadian machine, well-oiled machine I may say because this band plays so damn tight. This gig was no exception. They played 4 songs of the newly offered album Beneath the Veil of Winter's Face. The Scarlett Eye, The Awakening, The Sailor and the Mermaid and of course the rocky The Preacher's Fall. The Willow Tree was the longest track of the set.
Singer Jean Pageau is another obvious reason for the high quality of Mystery's live shows. He has a fantastic voice and is able to sing just as good live as on the studio albums and not many vocalists can do that. Initially you could hear some small raspy edges, but this classy performer simply sings through it and partly due to his energetic attitude he once again managed to perform his role as frontman perfectly. Every now and then he plays some flute and also on his portable (and not always working 😊) keyboard he knows his way around. A number of masks add to the theatrical effect on some songs (Chrysalis, Shadow of the Lake, The Scarlett Eye) and he gets away with it without getting too cheesy. A few “guest singers”, Ada and Maurice, were allowed to show their best screams and that just shows how close this band is to its fans.
To achieve and maintain this level as a whole, a rhythm section is needed that can handle that. Well there is. Drummer Jean Sebastien Goyette is not called “animal” for nothing because his playing is powerful, varied and above all super tight. His super enthusiastic reactions during the concert are wonderful and clearly sincere. On the other hand, bassist Francois Fournier is usually quite calm, but is so important for this band's drive. If you look closely you can see his almost swinging playing and here and there he is allowed to play the leading role. Moreover, with his humorous announcements he is an absolute added value during the never disappointing gigs of Mystery.
Sylvain Moineau is the second guitarist and often plays supportive but occasionally shows that he is also a great musician and can play some blistering solos. Without him no Mystery live and in terms of looks, he is certainly the most Rock'n Roll. He was also mentioned as composer of the song Where Dreams come alive and showed his feeling for great melodies.
The last man on stage this time was Johnny Maz who replaced Antoine Michaud who had to miss this tour. Maz is a great keyboard player who shows his quality in Huis, but also makes good progress with his band Code18. But in this case he had to settle for a very modest role because, and that is the only downside with Mystery for me, in general, the keys could play a more prominent role to restore the balance with the overwhelming guitar playing. But of course the lush keyboards could be heard continuously and together with the bass pedals they provided a nice full and heavy background.
What do you play when there is not so much news? A set with much of the best that can be found on the albums and that often leads to a very recognizable set list. This is not meant as a criticism, in fact it is delicious to hear songs like Delusion Rain, Song for You, Shadow of the Lake etc… live. If you own the live albums, DVDs or the fantastic BluRay Caught in the Whirlwind of Time then you know what to expect and especially what quality. And that was the case again. These guys play with such enthusiasm and drive that they simply cannot disappoint and every concert is a party. It was clear that they were satisfied with De Pul and the promise was made that they would definitely come back.
I can't wait for the new album and the expectations are high. The intention is to tour again and I will certainly be there again. Mystery is really great! (oh yes, and think of beautiful T-shirts, preferably in the colours cornflower blue, evening sun red, mysterious anthracite, emerald green but not just black, my wife and daughter will throw me out if I come home with a black bandshirt again)
Just let the music flow through your mind and all will be fine!
A big thank you to John Damen who allowed me to use his magnificent pictures to accompany this review. And a special mention has to go to the venue for informing us so well.