The Sound of Adrian Borland

2006_06_flyer_borland_tribute.jpgParadiso, June 4th 2006.
Recently I visited the tribute concert ‘The Sound of Adrian Borland’ at Amsterdam’s Paradiso. The name Adrian Borland always makes me think of that concert in the early 90’s.

It was a rainy Tuesday night and only a handful of visitors showed up in Ekko, Utrecht. Borland stood alone with his guitar on stage and was struggling with sound problems. He also could not remember the lyrics of various older songs that the faithful fans requested. After the concert Borland made a disappointed impression when he sat at the bar. Nevertheless it was a memorable performance for me, to have seen the man live whose music I had listened to so often.

After Adrian Borland’s suicide in 1999, the attention for his work seems to increase every year. The old albums of The Sound were reissued on cd and contemporary retro-guitar wave acts name his band as a musical influence. Furthermore quite some unreleased material is now being released posthumously, both of The Sound and of Borland solo.

The latest chapter is the release of The Amsterdam Tapes, a collection of demos that Borland recorded in the early 90’s in the studio of Bart van Poppel in Amsterdam. At the time they were rejected by the record company, after which the material disappeared in a drawer. Recently Van Poppel encountered the recordings again and decided to ‘complete’ them, by adding a richer instrumental sound. Everything happened with approval of Robert Borland, who is intensively involved in the musical heritage of his son.

Father Borland was also present on June 4th in Paradiso, where a special night was organized in two different parts. In the first half songs from the ‘new’ cd The Amsterdam Tapes were played, which was on sale for the first time that night. The second half consisted completely of old material from The Sound. For this occasion an excellent (Dutch) all-star band was formed, with amongst others guitaristgitarist Robin Berlijn (Fatal Flowers) and drummer Leon Klaasse (The Pilgrims). Various guest singers shared the vocals. Like contemporary Mark Burgess of The Chameleons or Carlo van Putten, with whom Borland worked together in White Rose Transmission. But also a younger artist like Maurits Westerik of GEM handled the material pretty well.

The first part was a bit peculiar. Not so strange, when a temporary band plays songs that none knows yet. It certainly sounded solid, but it didn’t really come to life. I found it remarkable that I could recognize the sound of Borland so clearly in the ‘new’ songs.

Adrian Borland tributeAfter the break it was a totally different story. The band played only classics that I (and many other visitors) could sing along. Any objective approach wasn’t possible anymore. I never thought I would hear songs like ‘I can’t escape myself’ or ‘Where the love is’ ever performed live. Of course the most acclaimed Sound-album “From the lion’s mouth” had a central position, with songs like ‘Sense Of Purpose’ and ‘Possession’.

The band played with a lot of fire and created the impression that they play in this-lineup every week. None of the singers was a weak chain; everyone contributed his own personal touch, without playing for their own glory.
Of course you always miss personal favourites on a night like this, like ‘Golden Soldiers’, ‘Monument’ or ‘The Fire’. But actually I did not have much to complain about, especially with the encores.

Adrian Borland tributeFirst a solo rendition of ‘Silent air’ by singer-songwriter Simon Breed (with a lot of vocal participation from the audience) created an emotional atmosphere, followed by a dynamic performance of the Sound-classic ‘Winning’. The audience wanted even more, but the band ran out of material, so they treated us to a reprise of ‘Skeletons’.
In advance I feared that such a tribute could be disapappointing, but it turned out to be a special night. Let’s do it again in another ten years…

The setlist (thanks to the Brittle Heaven forum):

Set I: Adrian Borland Solo Songs
1. Fast Blue World (vocals by Felix Maginn) 2. Via Satellite (Simon Breed) 3. Darkest Heart (Kevin Hewick) 4. Sea Of Noise (Kevin Hewick) 5. Ordinary Angel (Carlo van Putten) 6. Queen (Maurits Westerik) 7. White Room (Mark Burgess) 8. Soul Explosion (Mark Burgess)

Set II: The Sound Songs 1. Party Of The Mind (Felix Maginn) 2. Skeletons (Felix Maginn) 3. Contact The Fact (Kevin Hewick) 4. Where The Love Is (Kevin Hewick) 5. I Can’t Escape Myself (Simon Breed) 6. Hands Of Love (Carlo van Putten) 7. Possession (Mark Burgess) 8. Sense Of Purpose (Mark Burgess) 9. Heartland (Maurits Westerik) Encores 1. Winning (Carlo van Putten) 2. You Showed Me That Silence (Simon Breed) 3. Skeletons (Felix Maginn)

* Streaming video of the concert is available at
* Nice photos of the night can be found at slightly-tilted.