Soft Machine are a well-known progressive rock/fusion/jazz rock band, which had many line-up changes over the years. The most recent line-up consists of the following members: Roy Babbington on bass guitar, John Etheridge on guitar, Theo Travis on saxophone, flute and piano and John Marshall on drums. I had the honour to interview Theo right before the gig, you can listen to the interview here. The current line-up used the name Soft Machine Legacy, but since this year the band dropped the word ‘Legacy’ and are continuing their work and performances with the original name. Due to illness, John Marshall was unable to tour with the band. Luckily the band found a good replacement drummer, named Nic France. I’ve never seen Soft Machine perform live and don’t know what to expect at all. Would they be playing old material, or only their most recent work? The Dutch fusion/jazz rock band Satisfaction Injection had the honour to play before Soft Machine was going to perform.
Matthijs Tuijn started with a spooky ambient/sounds intro which he triggered on his guitar effects. After the intro the band plays real instrumental fusion and jazz rock music, which also reminds me of Soft Machine. They were a great addition for the evening. Bassist Jonathan Roorda was the spokesman that evening when it came to announcements and telling stories about the band. Jonathan told the audience that it was the first time they played with this recent six piece formation live. The band members really pay attention to each other when they play. They also play really tight despite the many theme and rhythm changes. Both Matthijs and Bas Warner played good guitar solos. Bas broke one of his strings while playing, but the band continued to play and improvise while Bas was replacing his guitar string. When he was finished Jonathan asked a round of applause from the audience for Bas. Jonathan also said that they were going to release a new album called Special Medicine. It was already available for the people who were at the gig. The audience really enjoyed their performance and I enjoyed the show as well. Still, I was secretly waiting for Soft Machine to enter the stage.
The first thing that I noticed before the band started to play was that John Etheridge had some of his guitar effects on his music stand, which is quite extraordinary. What also surprised me was the fact that Theo Travis played on a keyboard, I’ve never seen him playing on a keyboard before. John was the spokesman for the band most of the time that evening. He told that the track Voyage Beyond Seven was written mostly by Theo. During that track the band used a lot of sound effects. When John is playing solos he really gets caught up in his performance, which is nice to see. Between tracks John told the audience more stories about Soft Machine and their members. Next year the band Soft Machine will be 50 years old. John told that Roy Babbington joined Soft Machine back in 1971, that he’s very happy that Nic had time to be John Marshall’s replacement for the tour and bragged about the fact that Theo toured along with David Gilmour. Theo told that John Etheridge joined the band in 1975.
While the band was playing the track Kings & Queens the members really paid attention to each other when they played. They played phenomenal, but that’s not a surprise of course. After Kings & Queens John spoke again and told that the next song was written by Theo as a tribute for the planet Pluto. The audience had to laugh when John told that the song is a sort of ‘memorial’ for Pluto because it’s finally a planet again. After this track Nic played a brilliant drum solo, and the crowd really loved it. When the band came back on stage for the encore John said that he loves The Netherlands, and mainly for the tea. He also loved the fact that you can get warm Dutch snacks out of a vending machine. The encore starts with a great bass solo from Roy. While Roy kept on playing John thanked the venue, the venue’s personnel, the tour manager and the audience.
You can see that the band really enjoys it to play live on stage and that they are very talented musicians. The band played tracks from both their recent albums and older work, which is absolutely fantastic! They only played for 1,5 hours, I actually hoped that they would play a little bit longer because I really enjoyed their music and their performance. I hope this band will come back again for an anniversary tour!
Satisfaction Injection are:
Ilia Lumbroso – Flute & Saxophone
Matthijs Tuijn – Guitars
Jornt Duyx – Keyboards & Samples
Jonathan Roorda – Bass Guitar
Laurens Roorda – Drums
Bas Warner – Guitars
Soft Machine are:
John Etheridge – Guitars
Nic France – Drums & Percussion
Theo Travis – Saxophone, Flutes & Keyboards
Roy Babbington – Bass Guitar
- The Steamer
- Hazard Profile Part I
- Chloe And The Pirates
- Voyage Beyond Seven
- Song Of Aeolus
- Burden of Proof
- Facelift – The Last Day
- Kings & Queens
- Relegation Of Pluto
- Drum solo
- Grape Hound
You can read my review on Background Magazine:
All photos by me.