To try and put together a potted history including all the details of what has happened to this band over the years is a task beyond me, but let’s just say that since their inception back in 1972 they have been one of the most important progressive rock bands in the Dutch scene. Keyboard player and composer Ton Scherpenzeel had basically given up on bringing Kayak back together again but decided to start afresh with a new line-up and in 2017 they released ‘Seventeen’ which reached #6 in the Dutch charts, their highest placing since 1980. This led to some tours with a line-up of Bart Schwertman (vocals, acoustic guitar, bass, percussion), Marcel Singor (guitar, vocals), Kristoffer Gildenlöw (bass, vocals) and returning drummer Hans Eijkenaar. They recorded some of the dates, and the original idea was to make a live album available just to fans on their next tour with The Flower Kings, but after that was shelved a decision was made to have it available through their website instead. I have the version which has been released as part of the wonderful True Music Guide series (#17), which is an A5 booklet containing an interview and photos, but as this was a limited edition I am not sure if it is still available.
Anyway, it is all about the music, and this double CD set lasts nearly two hours, yet it flies by. Here we have a band who may only have got together for the tour, yet the name has a long history and the crowd know all the songs and are there for a great time, and of course the band reacts to that. Schwertman and Singor are new names to me, but they are more than up for the job. Scherpenzeel is at the helm, which given he wrote or co-wrote virtually all the 22 songs on display is no surprise, and with a strong rhythm section it allows Schwertman and Singor to really relax into their roles. Singor is a very powerful guitarist, and if this band had been formed 20 years later than they had, then they would be discussed as neo prog as certainly in the live environment that is how their material comes across. Hard rock, melodic rock, progressive rock all combines together to create music which is dynamic, forceful and plain great fun.
Schwertman may have been an unknown before joining the band in time for the last album, but he is at home with the old material as he is with the new and is a singer with plenty of range and emotion. Let us all hope that Scherpenzeel fully recovers from his heart attack, and that this band can again get back into the studio and then onto the stage as nearly fifty years down the road, Kayak still have a great deal to offer the prog world.