Coming from the enormous Apollo Theatre to the much smaller Paradiso was a jolting change. Everything was just the opposite. The stage was tiny. The acoustics unbalanced in many places. Standing room only. The bar is situated right inside the hall, creating an enormous traffic problem. It was extremely difficult to get a good view unless you're really tall. To make matters worse, the tightly packed crowd were the most pushy and inconsiderate folks I'd ever seen at a Todd show.
On the plus side, this was a much better setting for the Johnson set. I was blown away by how good the blues sounded in Amsterdam's Pop Temple. The rhythm section of Prairie and Kaz came through loud and strong, with palpable energy and verve. Todd sounded great. Jesse was really on fire. And the crowd was swaying to Crossroads at the end.
The AWATS set, on the other hand, was beset with all sorts of technical problems. Todd's headset didn't work half the time. The band got out of sync in places. On top of that, Todd did not have his A voice. I'd never heard him so harsh and strained like this before. The tiny stage also limited his ability to move around and do his usual theatrics.
Nevertheless, there were also many memorable musical moments as well, like the "Zen Archer" duet between Jesse and Bobby, or the absolutely blistering guitar solo in "Is It My Name?" following a haunting rendition of "I Don't Want To Tie You Down".
It definitely was not the best AWATS show, but the mostly Dutch audience was enthusiastic, raucous and appreciative nonetheless. The atmosphere toward the end was joyous and fun, with an unsually long applause after "Just One Victory". Perhaps people thought ... still there was more?
For me, the best part about the Paradiso is that it's located near the hip and happening Leidseplein square, with many fine pubs and coffeeshops within walking distance. One cannot choose a more perfect way to kick off a concert evening than that!