Ayreon announces ‘Electric Castle Live & Other Tales’
If the bedrock of progressive rock is to throw caution to the wind and to indulge your wildest musical flights of fancy, then Arjen Anthony Lucassen is a modern-day titan of the genre.
On March 27, Music Theories Recordings/Mascot Label Group release ‘Ayreon – Electric Castle Live And Other Tales’, a 3 LP/2CD+DVD/BD set of last year’s spectacular live performance of the third Ayreon album ‘Into The Electric Castle’. Over four nights at Tilburg’s 013 venue (the scene of Lucassen’s Ayreon Universe series of live shows in 2017) Lucassen, his band and one of modern progressive music’s most emphatic of casts celebrated the 20th anniversary of ‘Into the Electric Castle’ in front of 12,000 adoring fans from 64 different countries who had flown in from around the world.
The live event features Fish, Simone Simons (Epica), Damian Wilson (Headspace), Anneke van Giersbergen (The Gathering), Edward Reekers (Kayak), George Oosthoek (Orphanage), Edwin Balogh (Ayreon), Marcela Bovio (MaYan), Robert Soeterboek (Star One) as well as the band of Joost van den Broek (After Forever/Star One), Johan van Stratum (VUUR), Marcel Singor, Ferry Duijsens (VUUR), Bob Wijtsma (Ex Libris), Ben Mathot (Dis/Guilt Machine), Ed Warby (Gorfest), Robby Valentine Valentine) and Thijs van Leer (Focus).
“Because it was the 20th anniversary of the album, and we’d just remixed and re-released it, we figured it was the perfect moment to perform this live”, says Lucassen. “The Ayreon Universe shows were such a fantastic experience for everyone involved, and I’d had loads of requests for more live shows, so we decided to perform the entire ‘Electric Castle’ album back at the 013, and also play one track from each of my side projects billed as ‘Other Tales’.”
Released in 1998, ‘Into The Electric Castle’ is your classic tale of an epic quest. Set in “no time and no space”, it tells the story of eight individuals who are guided by a mysterious voice and tasked with finding the mysterious Electric Castle. The original album features amongst others Fish (the Highlander), Lucassen (the Hippie), Edwin Balogh (The Roman), Anneke van Giersbergen (the Egyptian), Damian Wilson (the Knight) and Edward Reekers (the Futureman), all of whom repeated their performances for the live spectacular.
Also among the 22 musicians and singers who made up the impressive cast list were long-time Lucassen collaborators Thijs Van Leer (Focus), Simone Simons (Epica), John Jaycee Cuijpers (Praying Mantis), Marcela Bovio and musicians Joost van den Broek, Johan van Stratum, Marcel Singor, Ferry Duijsens, Bob Wijtsma and Ben Mathot.
Having made a name for himself in the 1980s with Dutch hard rock bands Bodine and Vengeance, and with his first solo album in 1993, it is with Ayreon that Lucassen has truly made a name for himself as a composer of unbridled imagination and creativity.
Having set out his stall with the first two Ayreon albums ‘The Final Experiment’ (1995) and ‘Actual Fantasy’ (1996), as a creator of vivid musical works built around some of the finest talent in the prog and rock worlds, everything seemed to align perfectly with 1998’s ‘Into The Electric Castle’.
“I poured my heart and soul into it”, says Lucassen of the original album. “Investing everything I had both financially and creatively, and enlisted the best instrumentalists and singers I could find in the world at that time. When making the album I was unconstrained by any musical or stylistic boundaries and incorporated many of my favourite musical styles. ‘Into The Electric Castle’ received an overwhelmingly positive reception from both the press and the fans. This firmly established the Ayreon name, making Ayreon the perfect project to pour all of my time and creative energy into.”
Although best known as a studio-based musician, Lucassen slowly countered his fear of performing live when he first joined long-time collaborator Anneke van Giersbergen for some live dates in 2015, before tackling the more elaborate theatre staging of his 2004 Ayreon album ‘The Human Equation’ in Rotterdam over four nights the same year (on which he served as special advisor). He went even further in 2017 when he appeared on stage with his star-studded ‘Ayreon Universe’ shows at Tilburg’s 013.
“I get absolutely crippling stage fright”, he says. “Up to the night before the Tilburg shows, I was having dreadful panic attacks. But it’s all for a good cause!”
Creating a live show for ‘Into The Electric Castle’ seemed like the logical next step, and the four 2019 shows were a resounding success, captured for posterity in ‘Ayreon – Electric Castle Live and Other Tales’. In fact, it all went so well, that Lucassen is taking the show to headline the prestigious German progressive rock festival Night Of The Prog in June of this year.
“I just love recording my various projects in the studio,” he concurs, “but I’m not a live performer. I’m the guy who comes up with the ideas, sees the big picture, and puts it all together. So I’m glad that so many incredible musicians helped me bring my music to the stage.”
1. Welcome to the New Dimension ft. John de Lancie
2. Isis and Osiris ft. John de Lancie, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Fish, Simone Simons, Edwin Balogh , Damian Wilson & Marcela Bovio
3. Amazing Flight ft. John de Lancie, Simone Simons, John JayCee Cuijpers, Arjen Lucassen, Marcela Bovio,
4. Time Beyond Time ft. John de Lancie, Edward Reekers, Edwin Balogh, Damian Wilson & Marcela Bovio
5. The Decision Tree ft. Fish, John JayCee Cuijpers, John de Lancie & Marcela Bovio
6. Tunnel of Light ft. Anneke Van Giersbergen, Fish, Simone Simons, John JayCee Cuijpers, Edward Reekers, , Edwin Balogh , Damian Wilson & Marcela Bovio
7. Across the Rainbow Bridge ft. John de Lancie, Arjen Lucassen, Edwin Balogh, Damian Wilson & Marcela Bovio
8. The Garden of Emotions ft. John de Lancie, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Simone Simons, John JayCee Cuijpers, Edward Reekers, Arjen Lucassen, Marcela Bovio& Edwin Balogh
9. Valley of the Queens ft. John de Lancie, Anneke Van Giersbergen & Marcela Bovio
10. The Castle Hall ft. John de Lancie , John JayCee Cuijpers, Damian Wilson & Marcela Bovio
11. Tower of Hope ft. John de Lancie, John JayCee Cuijpers, Arjen Lucassen, Marcela Bovio & Edward Reekers
12. Cosmic Fusion ft. John de Lancie, Simone Simons, Edward Reekers, Edwin Balogh, Marcela Bovio , Mark Jansen & George Oosthoek
13. Robby Valentine ft. John de Lancie
14. The Mirror Maze ft. John de Lancie , Edward Reekers, Edwin Balogh , Damian Wilson & Marcela Bovio
15. Evil Devolution ft. John de Lancie, Edward Reekers, & Marcela Bovio
16. The Two Gates ft. John de Lancie, Edwin Balogh , Damian Wilson, John JayCee Cuijpers & Marcela Bovio
17. Forever of the Stars ft. John de Lancie
18. Another Time, Another Space ft. John de Lancie, Simone Simons, Edward Reekers, Edwin Balogh, Fish, Marcela Bovio , Arjen Lucassen, Anneke Van Giersbergen, John JayCee Cuijpers, Damian Wilson, Robert Soeterboek, Mark Jansen & George Oosthoek
19. Shores of India ft. Anneke Van Giersbergen & Marcela Bovio
20. Ashes ft. Simone Simons & Marcela Bovio
21. Out In The Real World ft. Marcela Bovio
22. Twisted Coil ft. Damian Wilson & Marcela Bovio
23. Kayleigh ft. Fish & Marcela Bovio
24. Pink Beatles in a Purple Zeppelin ft. Arjen Lucassen & Marcela Bovio
25. Songs of the Oceans ft. Simone Simons, Edward Reekers, Edwin Balogh, Fish, Marcela Bovio , Arjen Lucassen, Anneke Van Giersbergen, John JayCee Cuijpers, Damian Wilson, Robert Soeterboek, Mark Jansen & George Oosthoek
Pre-sale starts 29th January at 3PM GMT – http://smarturl.it/Ayreon-MLG