Our yearly dose of Life of Agony
For the 3rd year in a row, we saw Life of Agony at a venue in Eindhoven. Last year, at ‘Het Klokgebouw’ headlining the ‘Sound of Revolution’ and the previous year at the same venue as last night, the ‘Effenaar’ (as I’ve outlined also in my previous blog about ‘My best memories of Life of Agony’ of the past 25 years). And just like 2 years ago, they kicked off with ‘River Runs Red,’ paving the way for a lot more songs to be played from that iconic ‘90s album. Pleasing the crowd all over again!
My friend had said upfront ‘I’m not going to be ‘headbanging’ tonight as my neck is already sore’. But as soon as Joey Z played the first guitar riff, she couldn’t help herself. Unlike the year before at ‘Het Klokgebouw’ where the crowd was too wild and too drunk, the crowd at the Effenaar seemed a lot more respectful to women. So, we did end up just behind the front row. I just couldn’t resist, I had to see the whole band up-close for once and feel their energy. How awesome! Mina and the guys are so intense and you can feel the love for their fans. By the end of the show Mina stood with her arms wide open taking it all in. She was so happy and almost started to cry.
Aside from playing almost every song of River Runs Red album, they only played a couple of songs from their other albums. ‘Lost at 22 - Ugly’ (which has been selected as one of the best metal songs of the 90s by Metal Hammer) and ‘Weeds – Soul Searching Sun’ as you can see in the video below including a short introduction by Mina interacting with the crowd:
I really wanted to hear those songs live as I was hoping they’d be even more intense then listening to those at home. And they were! Screaming along with ‘World gone madddd’, ‘Dead Speak Kindly’ (a song that feels and sounds to me like a tribute to Lane Staley of Alice in Chains), and ‘A Place where there’s no more pain’:
This blog about my best memories of Life of Agony in the past 25 years has been wandering around in my head for quite some time now, ever since I had written a similar blog about Pearl Jam. A couple of days ago, I was in the right headspace finally and set myself up to start writing this blog. And just before I started to write , I received the following Twitter notification that Mina is now following me (after I retweeted a post of Mina Caputo sharing a heart-breaking video of Sinead O’Connor):
I don’t believe in coincidences, but I do believe in signs. And this sign reassured me that I should follow my instincts and passion for LOA and get started with this blog leading up to my 8th LOA concert upcoming Monday...
The songs always lift me up when I need to get myself going, make me happy when I’m sad, and are great for exercising too. Keith’s* voice and his emotions are so genuine and real, the guitar riffs and the drums are really awesome, they make me wanna jump each and every time like I or ‘we’ did at Dynamo Open Air in Eindhoven, The Netherlands in '94. My first Life of Agony concert, standing side by side with 62.000 fans in a huge puddle of mud.
* Please refer my 'P.s. 2' at the bottom of this blog why I'm using 'Keith' instead of 'Mina' in the first part of this blog)
In 1995, we all jumped again on if I remember correctly ‘This time’ at the same spot where the crowd (120.000 people!) literally caused a small earth quake! And at some stage we were throwing all beer cup holders in the air which was quite a funny sight and quite dangerous as well. Again, if I remember correctly (please help me out guys…!). Fortunately, some bits and pieces of these concerts have been recorded by a German Metal TV show (from 53 mins onwards) and MTV:
Lowlands adventures ('94, '97) & meeting Keith
What I do remember is that the year after in '97, I had quite the experience with LOA…Being a student, I couldn’t afford going to all festivals and simply had to choose. So, I didn’t get a ticket for ‘A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise’ where LOA would play again. Fortunately, I knew some guys from the record label ‘Epitaph’ (The Offspring, Pennywise, NOFX etc.) who knew some guys at Roadrunner Records, LOA's record label back then…And we ran into one of the guys of Epitaph at our favorite rockbar ‘Sam Sam’ in Amsterdam on the night before their gig at Lowlands. He said that some band members of Life of Agony were going to do a signing session that night at the music store Fame in Amsterdam.
So, I joked around saying ‘maybe we can get ourselves on their guest list…’ as I wasn’t particularly interested in their signatures, but I was dying to see them play. And as you’ll have guessed by now, for about an hour or so of walking around the music store, the Epitaph guy was trying to get in touch with LOA's tour manager. Finally, he came back saying, ‘He girls, good news, you’re on LOA's guest list tomorrow night!’ I truly didn’t believe him, but he was quite convinced, so we gave him a big hug and went back to the Sam Sam bar in complete disbelieve.
As Keith wasn't present at the signing session, we were wondering where he would be. Knowing he loved Amsterdam and his love for smoking ‘weeds' he might as well be at a coffee shop. The bar tender had heard rumours Keith was at a coffee shop down the road and we could not help ourselves to check it out. And yes, there he was, sitting at the bar, looking pretty stoned while holding a joint…
Initially, I didn’t dare to walk up to him, and finally I had the guts as this would be my one and only chance of ever being able to have a chat with him. And so I did, I can’t exactly remember what I said and what he said, but I do recall that he was really nice to us and that I told him that his tour manager put us on the guest list. Keith said he was looking forward to see us at the show.
But still, we were in complete disbelieve of everything that had happened that night, still not sure if we should even go to Lowlands. What if we weren’t on the guest list, that would be quite a trip all for nothing…(3-4 hrs of trains/buses and we didn’t even know where to pick up the VIP bands…). The next morning, we decided that we should take the chance, as I would regret it for the rest of my life for not trying.
So, we jumped on the train with our backpacks, no tent included, but we did know some friends were at the festival hoping they would give us some shelter that night… After a long ride by trains and buses and looking for the VIP entrance walking around the festival area for a couple of hours, completely drained from the rain, we finally found it.
We entered the VIP tent and said with a bit of hesitation that we were on the guest list of Life of Agony…And of course we weren’t…But I was so focused on getting to their concert and told the whole story mentioning the tour managers name etc. They made a few calls to verify our story, and then (even though they weren’t quite convinced) they ended up giving us a VIP band…We were sooo surprised and above all happy! We had to run though, as the LOA show started at 19.00 and we only had half an hour to get in and drop our backpacks somewhere. And as soon as Joey hit his first guitar riff we entered the festival tent. We made it!
Keith has left the building…(1999)
Following the release of ‘Soul Searching Sun’ just one month later, Keith decided to leave Life of Agony which was quite the shock. But somehow, we all knew it was for the best at the time. Ugly Kid Joe singer Whitfield Crane joined Life of Agony during their Soul Searching Sun tour the following year and I saw them at De Melkweg in Amsterdam. Crane, with his great voice as he proofed once again when I went to see Ugly Kid Joe in Amsterdam last year, sung their songs with so much respect, however it wasn’t the same without Keith…And the band members felt the same way in the end according to Life of Agony’s Wikipedia page.
My ‘break up’ with Life of Agony
And then there was silence, at least from my end…Life of Agony toured for quite a while and all of the members took on various side projects, and to be reunited for the first time in 2003, but I didn’t get to see them. In 2005, I migrated to Australia and to be honoust, I had lost track of Life of Agony and Keith by then, still listening to their music though.
3x Life of agony @ Eindhoven (2015, 2016, 2017)
Then I decided to find out if they were heading over to The Netherlands for a show and to my surprise they were! I bought tickets for their show on the 15th of June at the Effenaar, once again in Eindhoven. A wonderful small venue. Although her voice was a bit different, I guess a bit higher, it still felt like Life of Agony. I was so excited to hear their major songs live again after all those years (see pics and review by Rockportaal). Mina said a big thank you to the crowd for embracing her for who she is:
One year later, we saw them again in Eindhoven. This time at the old Philips Klokgebouw as they were headlining ‘The Sound of Revolution’ in front of a much larger audience. Somehow, we had this stupid idea of walking all the way to the front row, not realising the crowd was already pumped up by the likes of Madball and Ignite. During the first song we lost each other, got hit in the heads and with beer poured all over us we found each other again after a couple of songs. We decided that we’re not up for this stuff anymore and went halfway in the back, just behind the pit. Being afraid of losing my Iphone while recording, I only dared to make one video during the slow part of 'Bad Seed.' The crowd was so excited and so was I. And I decided to stay in the moment and scream along with the songs.
As LOA already mentioned at their last concert, they were working on a new album. In april 2017, they released their new single ‘World gone mad‘ and I loved it straight away with the full blown guitar riffs and Mina’s fierce voice and lyrics. I just couldn’t wait for the whole album to be released. This album has been growing on me ever since. Bits and pieces keep on popping in my head ‘How long, how long to right this wrong…’ is one of them…
Geniet mee met Jetty van Kooij en deel ook jouw culturele belevenissen om deze herinneringen in leven te houden!