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The release party of Ayreon's latest album in Utrecht.

Sunday, January 27th, 2008.
The new Ayreon album, entitled '01011001' was released and for this album, a special release party was organised. Because I had preordered the album I already had it, and I already knew how it sounded, but I couldn't be absent from such a cool party. I missed the release party for 'The Human Equation' in 2004, and I have since deeply regretted missing it.
So, on this Sunday morning I woke up early to catch the train to go to Utrecht. Just as it did 4 years ago, the party took place in the alternative rock cafe 'Stairway to Heaven', owned by the famous Dutch man Henk Westbroek. At the railway station in Rijssen I met a girl from Markelo with whom I travelled to Utrecht. Once we arrived there, there was already a large group of fans waiting to go to the venue. After greeting some people I know, we all went to the cafe together. We were quite early and we still had to wait 2 more hours to get in... I had left home at around 9 in the morning, arrived in Utrecht at 11, and the doors of the Stairway only opened at 13:00, but we had a nice time and some great and funny conversations with the other Ayreon fans. During that time, the amount of people kept on growing until the queue was so long that I couldn't see the end of it. Yeah, Ayreon is booming!
At around 13:00 we entered the venue and tried to find a nice spot for the acoustic performance that would be happening later that afternoon. I also bought myself a nice shirt with a print of the new album on it, and met some of my online friends, and even one from Finland! At a certain point the venue reached its maximum capacity and the security people decided to close the doors. It was packed inside and it was almost impossible to move without falling over other people. The other consequence of that was that all the people still standing outside had extremely bad luck!
After waiting for a very long time, manager Lori Linstruth walked onto the stage and began talking to the large crowd. She also gave the sign to start a DVD with some nice movies and interviews with various guest vocalists. This was all really nice to see! On top of that they showed us a CGI video (computer animated) of the track 'Beneath the waves' from the new album. This again caused goosebumps.
Then it was time for the acoustic set. Numerous artists were present, which created a fantastic atmosphere! This overwhelming list contained 14 names: Arjen Lucassen, Lori Linstruth, Ed Warby, Peter Vink, Floor Jansen, Hansi Kürsch, Magali Luyten, Marjan Welman, Joost van den Broek, Robert Soeterboek, Ben Mathot, Ruud Houweling, Liselotte Hegt and Wudstik. They played some awesome tracks, some originating from the new album ('Ride the comet', 'Web of lies', E=mc2', 'The truth is in here', and 'River of time') and of course a couple Ayreon classics ('Valley of the queens', 'Day six: Childhood', 'Charm of the seer', and 'The castle hall'). I truly enjoyed all the songs, and in the meantime I also had the time to take a bunch of nice photos. My place (on one of the stairs -- how appropriate in the Stairway...) gave me a nice spot to take photos from. I could see over all the heads below me. It was a bit too dark to take really nice photos and I was standing quite far from the stage, but you can judge the quality of the photos for yourself in the Photo album. Enjoy them!
After the acoustic performance there was some time to get stuff signed by the artists and to have a quick chat with them. In the meanwhile Arjen went together with Peter and Floor outside the venue to sing a couple of songs for the people who were still standing outside in the freezing cold. They also handed out some posters to these fans. Inside the venue it was still extremely crowded, so there was very little time to talk to the musicians. I was fortunate to be able to talk with Lori and Liselotte for a while. Afterwards I went to Arjen and Floor to take a nice portrait photo of the three of us. That was really amazing!
When the 'show' was finally over we had to leave the cafe, so we went together with a bunch of fans to a local pizzeria in the city center of Utrecht. Here we ended the day in a cozy, funny and tasty way. At around 20:00 we walked back to the railway station and said goodbye to each other. Everyone left in his or her own direction, but we all took with us some great experiences of this unforgettable day. Thanks everybody!