I've watched with interest over the years a promising Dutch rock scene being overshadowed by the heavier metal rock scene of neighbouring Germany with only a handful of bands ever really breaking it in this country.
© Broer van den Boom
So it came as something of a surprise to find a young Dutch band formed four years ago in Haarlem paying tribute to the enigma that was the Eagles and a genre of music that can best be labelled as country rock in Edinburgh at the Fringe this year - it was too tempting not to give them a listen.
A reasonably full but damp St George's audience welcomed on stage these six lads who immediately struck up some wonderful vocal harmonies to preview the Jackson Browne song Take it easy which Glenn Frey had completed for him. Immediately there was recognition of some excellent technical musicianship and a wonderfully authentic sounding harmony backing Ivo's lead vocal and also recreating exactly the sound that you could also hear on their CD (which many bands fail to do live).
There wasn't much time for chatting to the audience with only the odd quip or two between songs; their programme of 14 songs in an hour was quite challenging within the tight format of a Fringe event. Jaco's lead vocal on Lyin' eyes gave way to Ruben's heavy Native American Indian drum beat that signalled Witchy woman with Denis taking over the vocals between ripping chords from his guitar and trying to control his wayward hair.
A gentle keyboard intro from Bart calmed thing down with Pretty maids all in a row with Arto now taking the lead vocal. About the only Eagles song which they didn't write was Jeff Tempchin's Peaceful easy feeling - a well known Glenn Frey favourite which Ivo took in full stride. Similarly, about the last Randy Meisner song that he wrote (with Henley and Frey) before leaving the band Take it to the limit really began to get the audience going. This was taken up a notch with the seminal Hotel California which not only epitomised the technical competence of this band but showed the attention to detail, in that the band had forced Arto to purchase a double neck 18 string guitar to maintain the authenticity. Denis aided and abetted the song on vocals and I'm assured that Ruben augmented many of the notes in the range that make dogs yell but it wasn't evident during the performance.
A slow keyboard intro gave the boys a chance to towel down, grab a quick drink before Ruben took on the vocal for Life in the fast lane before some more astonishing authentic sounding guitar work from Denis and Arto on that exquisite of tracks One of these nights on the penultimate song.
Desperado, piano-led and fronted by Denis on vocals rounded off the main set but finding the door locked so that they couldn't escape, they quickly returned to rouse the audience with a faithful rendition of Heartache tonight which had us in raptures before a very calming finale of Seven bridges road, a Steve Young song (some aficionados may remember Ian Matthews covering this), which I remember the Eagles opening their set with on many occasions - a four part harmony in its original form, but this time all six took centre stage to round off an exceptional gig.
It was a night of nostalgia for a band that for various reasons fell apart. It was brilliantly carried off by these six Dutch lads. They created the right atmosphere with well crafted reproductions of the Eagles sound but augmented it with a little of their own style, especially on the interaction of their stage act and the guitar solos. I could single out some apparent mischievous facial expressions from Denis but to do so would almost detract from a holistic performance from a young band trying to sound like a band many of us hold dear - and carrying it off tremendously well. They are on a long run (pun intended) for most of the festival so get yourself down to St George's West and check them out. They have indeed earned the right to call themselves the Dutch Eagles!
© Julian Davis 06/08/2007. First published on www.edinburghguide.com.
Run - 3rd-27th August 2007