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ASIWYFA TivolideHelling 2013 007Tivoli de Helling, Utrecht, The Netherlands
19th September 2013
And So I Watch You From Afar, Mannheim

A few years ago, I have seen several shows of AND SO I WATCH YOU FROM AFAR on both small and bigger stages, and their music always made me cheerful. I hope the change of one of the band members and the coming out of their latest album doesn’t make me feel different, but let’s find out…


Dutch instrumental rock band MANNHEIM combines the throbbing sounds of the baritone sax with noisy guitars and pounding drums to create a unique live experience. Formed in 2012, MANNHEIM started working on their debut album ‘Super-Empowered’ which is produced in collaboration with Rene Rutten (THE GATHERING) and was released in June 2013. /

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Music & Performance
The Baritone sax is an immediate eye catcher as MANNHEIM takes the stage. The guitarist, bassist and sax player make an odd but interesting trio on stage, while the drummer is quite hidden in a corner because of the double backline on stage. What obviously makes this band unique is the use of the sax in their music. But more importantly, this instrument is incorporated in their sound extremely well. Bands using novel instruments in their sound usually do this only occasionally or only during part of a song (solo) but not with MANNHEIM. Their set list, not surprisingly, focuses on their first and only album so far ‘Super-Empowered’. In simple one-word title tracks, we move from fast to slow and back again, from joyful and energetic to dark and melancholic, but all the time with an overwhelming and well-balanced groove.

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This makes the live experience of MANNHEIM surprisingly pleasant! I wouldn’t dare to put a label on MANNHEIMS music (post metal, free jazz, noise rock? sludge?) but their show is worth checking out!

01. Beast
02. Predator
03. The Filth
04. Watcher
05. Hometown
06. Richter
07. Zugzwang
08. Beast

Music: 7
Performance: 6
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 7 / 10

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And So I Watch You From Afar

AND SO I WATCH YOU FROM AFAR (ASIWYFA) is a four-piece rock band from Belfast, Northern Ireland. They wrote and released two albums and two EPs as a four-piece with former member Tony Wright. Their 2011 album release, ‘Gangs’, earned the band a second Choice Music Prize nomination for Irish Album of The Year 2012. In the meantime, ASIWYFA has been touring extensively all over the world, adding less-travelled roads (or stages) in China, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to their already considerable touring list. ASIWYFA's third album ‘All Hail Bright Futures’ is their first recording done as a three-piece following the departure of Tony Wright in 2011. According to their bio description, the 12-track album is dominated by a sunnier disposition, a positive uplift that more closely matches the euphoria the Northern Ireland trio has been instilling in audiences through their music in a live setting for the last five years. There are moments of tropical guitar pop ('Rats On Rock'), percussive bleeping song foundations paired with infectious vocals ('The Stay Golden'), a trumpet arrangement ('Young Brave Minds'), an orchestral interlude '(Trails'), sing-along mantras ('Big Things Do Remarkable'), harmonic hooks ('Like A Mouse'), a flute melody ('Mend And Make Safe') along with cutup vocals and handclaps ('Ka Ba Ta Bo Da Ka').

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All of these new additions to the ASIWYFA sound are underpinned by their trademark guitar riffs that bliss the musical brain, complemented by the colossal and increasingly expressive rhythm section that comforts as much as it bludgeons. The band will head back out on the road as a four piece with their new full time member Niall Kennedy. ASIWYFA is Rory Friers (Guitar), Niall Kennedy (Guitar), Johnny Adger (Bass) and Chris Wee (Drums). /

Music & Performance
In the meantime, Tivoli de Helling has filled up quite properly with a seriously enthusiastic audience. The band gets a warm welcome as they kick off their show with ‘Big Thinks Do Remarkable’ and ‘Like a Mouse’ from their latest album. I’m relieved that the addition of several electronic sounds and intermezzos to their music has only empowered their initial sound instead of blurring it. ASIWYFA moves on with a few older songs from their 2011 album ‘Gangs’ which are noticeably recognized by the audience as cheers go up towards the stage. Rory, Niall, Johnny and Chris focus on their music, while roadie/ tour manager Graham saves the day, quickly stepping in to catch one of the cymbals falling off the drum riser, well done! Further on, we go back in time with songs from their EP ‘Letters’ and their self-titled debut album. The audience undiminished enthusiastic, Rory expresses his appreciation for this warm welcome while he mocks the crowd about being the most beautiful one he’d ever seen. After having a good laugh, the band continues with both old and new songs that actually blend in together quite well.

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In my humble opinion, the sound of ASIWYFA is unique in being so loud and yet so delicate at the same time. The transition from a whirl of sounds and layers into a single tune that can hardly be heard goes almost unnoticed.  It is most interesting to see the audience automatically go with the flow from enthusiastically yelling with the boys on stage to complete silence to hear those tiny chords Rory plays. Nearing the end of the show, guitarist Rory hands over his guitar to a guy in the audience to make some noise as well as he manages the sound pedals. After the initial goodbyes, the band returns for two more songs. With ‘Search:Party:Animal’ and ‘The Voiceless’ this show comes to an end and my head is overloaded with marvellous tunes and sounds. All in all: great show, great band and one of the very few instrumental bands who can keep my attention during a full show.

01. Eunoia
02. Big Thinks Do Remarkable
03. Like a Mouse
04. Beautiful Universe Master Champion
05. Gang (Starting Never Stopping)
06. S Is for Salamander  
07. A Little Bit of Solidarity Goes a Long Way
08. Mend and Make Safe
09. 7 Billion People All Alive at Once
10. K Is for Killing Spree (An Ode To)
11. Set Guitars to Kill
12. Search:Party:Animal  
13. The Voiceless

Music: 9
Performance: 8
Sound: 8
Light: 7
Total: 8 / 10

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All pics by Ruth Mampuys (

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