In an era where band reunions are increasingly commonplace, it also seems that individual musicians are joining the reformation bandwagon. One of the more surprising returns to the industry, sees Adrian Vandenberg put together a new band – Vandenberg’s Moonkings – to mark the end of a sixteen year absence from the rock scene.
When exiting Whitesnake in 1998, it seemed that Vandenberg’s contribution to rock music was all but over. His time with Whitesnake was remarkably successful: record sales in the millions and his guitar-work well respected by peers and fans alike. The hiatus allowed him to engage in artistic ventures, and with each passing year the return to music appeared increasingly unlikely.
In 2011, Vandenberg composed a celebratory song – A Number One – for Dutch football outfit FC Twente. Of all the ways to re-engage with music, this would have been one of the least expected means, for fans and the artist himself. Moreover, the invitation to produce the record for FC Twente turned out to be more than just an isolated incident in Vandenberg’s return. In producing A Number One, Vandenberg procured the services of singer Jan Hoving, drummer Mart Nijen-Es and bass player Sem Christoffel. And like any good musician, Vandenberg realised that he was piecing together a team capable of inspiring new success.
Thereafter, the project was formed: Vandenberg’s Moonkings. Recording of the band’s album commenced at the Wisseloord Studios, Amsterdam in September 2013. With the album released earlier this week, it is clear that the end-to-end writing and recording process moved swiftly: testament to the cohesion of the Moonkings.
Considering the length of Vandenberg’s absence from writing guitar pieces for record, it was a welcome surprise to play through the album and hear guitar-work as good as any he has produced to date. Stylistically, Vandenberg has departed little from his Whitesnake days. However an effectively simplistic dynamic threads across the Moonkings’ album that differentiates from the layering employed by Whitesnake. With just Vandenberg’s guitar working alongside bass and drums, each component comes across with greater potency; with Vandenberg’s riffs and solos naturally prevalent.
The opening track Lust and Lies offers a prominent example of how the Moonkings have assembled a commendable album. A strong piece in itself, Lust and Lies, captures the record’s essence: a tribute to the guitar-heavy rock music that the band have enjoyed in past successors, and which they intend to reinvent going forward. A captivating Vandenberg riff works well to thrust the track forward atop a pounding drumbeat sets the high-powered energy levels against which Hoving equally sets his vocals. Not only a strong piece in its own right, Lust and Lies serves as a bold introduction to the rest of the album, which follows in similar fashion.
Vandenberg’s Moonkings have produced an example of how traditional rock music, of this ilk, can remain relevant in the twenty-first century. The album differs slightly from Vandenberg’s familiar style; evidence that complacency should be dissuaded when returning with new material. As a unit, the Moonkings certainly impress. Whether the album is well received remains to be seen– although at the very least, the band seem to enjoy their new project: a key ingredient underlying any potential success.
Words > Chris Morris
Live: April 2014
23 Wolverhampton Robin 2
24 London O2 Academy, Islington
For more information, visit: MOONKINGSBAND.COM