Understanding within a band is simply crucial, creating a palpable sound that immediately enraptures the listener comes from understanding. Finalising their line up with Conner Green, Haken have truly understood both their purpose and their sound. Demonstrating their flawless musicianship the band arrive in Islington on the second date of their Affinitour tonight for a banquet of progressive musical tones.
26th May 2016
The Garage, Islington
Support Bands: Akrentype, Special Providence
Don’t let Akrentype’s relatively low kee status fool you the Norwegian metallers are more than up for the challenge of taking on an open minded truly diverse crowd tonight. Easily the heaviest band of the night sonically, Akrentype’s delivery characterised by heavy rhythmic sections on eight string guitars. Hardly a cause for marvel but it’s the band stage presence tonight that sees them as a memorable act. Arriving almost all cloaked in white save for the guitarist who dons black from the moment the band are on stage they are visibly a little nervous but shortly shake these nerves off. Performing the likes of “Epiphany” to an increasingly intrigued crowd. Couple that with the novel idea of bassist hopping on the singers shoulders and the band will no doubt be memorable here tonight.
Contrasting against the previous metallic onslaught a much more organic entity steps into the temporary limelight. Acting almost as part of Liquid Tension Experiment, Special Providence are absolutely masterful with their relevant instruments. Working their way through instrumental tracks seeing pace ebb and flow from the interplay between both keys and guitar to the compound of bassist and drummer come spokesperson for the band. Regardless of if our guitarist’s infatuation with Petrucci the man brings a distinctive melodic slant on the songs. Don’t get me wrong there is a fair bit of shredding tonight but when the ban decide to smooth things over with beautiful jazz sections it’s the band’s eclecticity that is out in the limelight.
Having previously seen the Hungarian born band with classic Prog rockers Spocks Beard, since then their instrumentation might not have changed but their overall confidence within a crowd environment has improved magnificently. Not exactly of an Akerfeldtian level of engagemention nevertheless the band are a humble dream. Moving throughout all spectrums of Prog to create a veritable display of musical aptititude put forward here tonight and judging from the crowds bellow of approval as its time for the band to exit stage Special Providence are exactly at home here with Haken tonight.
As the air lock is opened we welcomed our space age sextet. Adorned with green guitar straps, ties and t shirts Haken are representing their eighties influence with pride. As the morse code introduction of “Affinity” drifts in before being jettisoned into “Initiate” make no mistake our countdown sequence has begun. Firing on all cylinders the aforementioned tracks are merely a preamble to the absolutely phenomenal rendition of arguably the band’s best track to date “1985“. Temporarily absenting himself from the stage Ross Jenning‘s returns sporting Kanye West style neon green rimmed sunglasses. Coupled with the purple disco flare coming from behind keyboard wizard Diego Tejeida who breaks the barrier by moving centre stage for a phenomenal keyboard solo in the song’s mid section.
With tonight’s set list compromising of choice cuts from works throughout the band’s career its striking that despite being on their fourth album the sheer following the band have garnered is unrivalled. Moving back into The Mountain territory “Pareidolia” is summoned with a fittingly heroic performance from the band. Despite their lengthy times each song flies by owing in part to the seasoned navigation of rhythmic fortress Connor Green and Ray who hit each and every note with erudite precision. Followed by the arrival of our imperious insect “The Cockroach King” as ever goes down without arch right up until Jennings’ Anderson-esque final section. Affinity centrepiece “The Architect” sees yet another lengthy addition to the band’s already logistically daunting choice of set. Melodies from Griffifths and Henshall are expertly traded off making it hardly seem as though this was the second time performing the new material live.
Adaptable in their sound yet staying true to their genre the likes of newer “Earthrise” sees a surprisingly heavier rendition of the track compared to its more harmonious overtones on the record. Returning after Visions closer “Deathless” the band return for a quick song as the introduction to the twenty minute odyssey that is “Crystallised” seeps through the PA. the emotional ups and downs of the song make for a perfect encapsulation of Haken’s sound. Vocal breakdowns, off time riffing and Herculean choruses are all the order of the day and are delivered with seasoned precision. Culminating in the climactic grand finale that is our denouement.
Choosing the name Affinity for their brand new album the band wanted to demonstrate the understanding each member has between one another. Demonstrating throughout the evening to night that the band understand exactly not only what the score is but their entire reason d’etre as a band. Coming together in the aforementioned “1985” together to create a sound that is as much a throwback as it is a thrust forward. As Jenning’s Englsih modesty shines through thanking people for showing up and not going to Radiohead, it would have been stiff competition with a performance brought to us here and with a little luck and a lot of talent we might be seeing Haken at the roundhouse at some point in the near future.