Luke’s Alphabet Tour – G: Gazpacho at London Garage – 28th March 2012

By on Tuesday, 10th April 2012 at 1:00 pm

The term ‘Norwegian art rock’ conjures images of a minute niche group of music aficionados who refuse to acknowledge any band whose songs don’t break the seven minute barrier. Beardy weirdies who live in their authentic Jethro Tull tour t-shirt and spend their evenings on the internet vigorously hunting down the oddest and most progressive artists producing sound today. Luckily this vast generalisation is incorrect judging by the crowd who have gathered at London’s Garage tonight to witness Oslo’s Gazpacho

The north London venue is awash with prog-rock fans young and old whose eyes are transfixed at the bodyless stage full of instruments. Gazpacho is the product of six extremely talented musicians who have the same passion and drive to create the most imaginative and powerful sonic experience possible – and tonight is no exception.

Taking to the stage at 8 PM, there is no need for a support act. The band have seven studio albums to choose material from including their brand new album ‘March Of Ghosts’, which has received critical acclaim throughout the prog community. The set opens with a huge Floydian inspired ‘Monument’ that easily places them amongst the progressive heavyweights with the vast instrumentals that don’t rush but ride the atmospheric waves like an albatross in a sea breeze.

These huge swells are followed by parts I to IV of ‘Hell Freezes Over’ in its entirety to the delight of those in attendance who already have their mitts on the new record. With elements of Marillion peeking through at times, the flawless musicianship on display is so tightly structured it’s as though they’ve played this show a hundred times before yet it sounds fresh and untainted by overplaying.

Gazpacho are no strangers to playing the UK, especially London. Last year they released a live album simply entitled ‘London’ recorded on the Missa Atropos tour at Dingwalls in Camden. Tonight’s performance could easily lend itself to a new live record as the Norwegian sextet showcase a career-spanning set including ‘Vera’, ‘Chequered Light Buildings’ and ‘Winter is Never’. However, an audio only representation of tonight’s performance simply wouldn’t do it justice.

Behind the band is a large screen on which an array of colourful and provoking images are projected to boost the musical effects. Wavy colours, blinking eyes and various swirls best reserved for a PG-rated acid trip hypnotise the audience whose focus hasn’t left the stage for almost 2 hours. These visuals might not be necessary to invoke emotion, but when combined with the music and light display, the experience is taken to a new level. Of course it’s probably not the stage show they most desire, but for a band of their stature the atmosphere created is incredible.

Closing the over two-hour set on ‘Splendid Isolation’ and ‘Bravo’, the Scottish-influenced violin solo rings out of the PA system to a roar of applause. As the house lights go up you’re suddenly jolted back into reality like a defibrillator had been placed on your chest to drag you back into existence. Was what we all saw a dream? At times it felt like it with the eerie, post-rock instrumentals and Jan-Henrik Ohme’s harmonious voice drowning the audience in a Brian Molko tinged vocal tidal wave. Judging by the reaction on the faces of both the crowd and band, another UK tour could easily be on the horizon. If it’s as innovative and exciting as tonight’s performance, then don your Viking helmet and set sail for Norway’s finest export (after a-ha, of course).

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