Prog. A very small word for an incredibly vast genre, the building blocks of virtuosity, experimentation and downright quirkiness all coming under the same umbrella and it’s current state couldn’t be healthier. Breathing new life into the often overlooked stuffy seventies ideology Prog is very much alive and kicking. Throughout it’s lifespan two big hitters have been both the UK and the US. With the English bands being some of the most important in the primal stages of Prog, acts like Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis to name a few. Nevertheless America has also got it’s foot firmly in the pool with the likes of the archetypal Dream Theater, Kansas and one Between The Buried and Me bringing the movement of Prog firmly into the Modern day.
17th September 2015
London, Camden Town
Support Bands: Haken
Tonight see’s just two bands perform which has a combined song amount of fourteen tracks… We see London born Haken tackle the first half. As the stage darkens and the familiar piano sections of “Premonitions” kick off. Those well initiated into the Haken ethos begin to scream in anticipation as five of our sextet confidently stride out. Until finally our charismatic singer bursts on stage with a sense of humility as the band kick into “In Memoriam“. Going up against the combined factor of five musicians Jennings’ vocal delivery is truly one of the highlights of the band’s performance tonight and without hardly saying a word exhibits all that the English stand for.
Segueing into the bountiful riffing of “Pareidolia” as we begin our journey into the unknown once more. An incredibly stripped back approach lends to the majesty of the musicianship, ensnaring everyone here at the Ballroom tonight. As the band consistently deliver material that exhibits a modest amount of virtuosity without Jennings needing to go for a walk around the block. Added in with essential pantomime “Cockroach King” theatrics are clearly something that Haken are closely affiliated with. Though it’s when the announcement that they might have time once again to squeeze one more song into their set, the monumental “Crystallised” is summoned which I assure you is every bit as awe inspiring as its nineteen minute tag might suggest. Fluctuating in all the right sections from the anticipation flirting keys in the intro section, to the Gentle Giant inspired vocal play mid way through to that, in every sense of the word, epic riff until the grand finale. As the band merely hold their hands up in appreciation at the crowd it is us who are in absolute awe of a band as confident, competent and truly brilliant as Haken.
Seeing things from the other side of the coin now we welcome to the return of North Carolina’s real claim to fame. Having previously performed two years ago on their Parallax tour it has been a while since us Brits have been in touch with Between The Buried and Me. So how will our next meeting fare? Immediately the band open with the familiar handshake that is “Selkies : The Endless Obssession” which answers our theoretical question…
After the classic jazz influenced widdling of the final section of the track comes to an end our resident banshee Tommy Rogers retreats behind his the keyboard. Which as predicted wee’s the more declawed Rogers approach on first new song of the night, “The Coma Machine” A shining example of just how much the band have grown not just musically but within themselves as well. Confidently navigating the melodic passages the band work in perfect harmony together to deliver a snap shot of new breed of Between The Buried and Me. That doesn’t mean to say that the band don’t still put themselves through the paces with the likes of fan favourite “Ants Of The Sky” which amidst the western ho down contains some of the band’s trickiest material in the set tonight.
Often a slight dilemma particularly in the realms of Prog where the decision of a setlist can become a real tough decision BTBAM’s songs are well thought out tonight. The double barrelled delivery of “Astral Body” and “Lay Your Ghosts To Rest” sit nicely together but it’s when the band delve once again into new material of the particularly eerie and barren tones of “Famine Wolf” and of course “Memory Palace” very much becoming the evenings set piece. The only problem the band have tonight is there is not enough time for the group to truly immerse themselves and our visit seems ever so fleeting. By creating an album as magnificent as Coma Ecliptic it seems far too short a slot, you can hardly appreciate chapter of a book as much as you would the novel a whole.
Deciding to close on a classic that see’s all of the Electrc Ballroom re enacting that fabled scene in Wayne’s World the grand finale of Queen cover “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a fun filled way to finish an overly serious set and no doubt pay tribute to one of the greats of our time. Promising to return some point in the next year the band will be always welcomed with the most fondest of smiles and with their boundary crossing brand new album you can bet that the old familiar handshake of the UK fans will still be right here waiting for them.