Koko, Camden, Thursday 21st November
It's time to dive into the winter wardrobe as the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness meanders into the chilly heart of winter. So, what's in the cupboard to keep us warmed?
First up are a curious outfit with, on the face of it, well-worn leather and denim but underneath, a challenging and tight PVC thong spiked with shards of steel and doused in deep heat or bleach. Then, like some retro sci-fi B-Movie costume, topped with some sort of cod futuristic shiny space helmet. All a bit weird.
TesseracT are a definitely strange mix. Progressive metal (if that's what it is) is a genre that's kind of got away from me. Add in the obligatory djent bombast and downtuned, hi-gain chugs and punches and the obfuscation only gets more bewildering.
A pretty much full Koko doesn't seem to mind the mismatched eccentricity however and a boisterous and eager early crowd rubberneck and gawp at the explosive couture like the alikadoos and liggers at the catwalk in fashion week. Without the Bolly dahlink. Obviously.
The playing is tighter than a deep sea squid's ringpiece with all manner of polyrhythmic reveries glued together with thunderous bass and precision skin thumping. And there's lots of hair. But now that Ashe O'Hara has imbued the whole output with high quality, clean and melodic crooning, the whole costume has become super-slick; maybe, arguably a little too slick.
It's undeniably brilliantly played and performed throughout - these guys are technically top drawer, it just seems to lack a little edge. The shards of glass and rusty steel need to be rubbed in to the genitals a bit more. It comes over more Jermyn Street silk boxers than tight PVC with a fuck off codpiece.
Still, a great kick off to this evening's parade. If not a little bewildering.
It's been a while since we've seen the Aussie proggers on our shores. And marking the launch of their recent tour de force Asymmetry, 'the Vool' finally bring their antipodean dress code out for a catwalk unveiling.
The new album gets a decent airing this evening with 7 or 8 of its tunes welded into the set alongside many old favourites (but no bloody Roquefort, sadly!). And from the off, it's easy to see that they've worked bloody hard on the tailoring and finish.
It's all exquisitely presented, but with enough added 'liveness' to avoid it being a soulless or slavishly flawless run-through of the factory-made prototypes.
The sound is perfect but not clinical; there's enough of a ragged edge to proceedings to get the heart pounding and not just the head nodding and beard stroking. Saying that, because of the dominance of the new material which obviously hasn't had much time to seep into even the most ardent fan's soft tissue, it takes a while to get going and it's not really until we're treated to the magnificent Themata that things kick off.
It's always a difficult balance; do you open wearing a big old favourite jumper or try something with the label still in the back that you're obviously fiercely proud of and want to show it off? Tonight, the new pair of knickers are the opening choice and, I'm not overly sure it was quite the right choice.
While the songs on the magnificent album are all of the highest quality you'd come to expect from these WA wizards, they're generally more in the 'grower not a shower' camp - and until openers The Last Few and AM War have become established favourites and generate the sing backs that Goliath and Simple Boy do, then maybe they should be tantalisingly revealed after the comfy jumper is provocatively peeled off.
That said, tonight's show is fervently and enthusiastically devoured by a lively and loved-up crowd. The best and most accessible new shoes are already becoming new favourites and We Are and The Refusal fit seamlessly among the tried and tested.
The main set does finish rather anticlimatically though with Aeons and it's only when the crowd notice the band aren't actually on stage any more that they realise they ought to politely ask for more. Which is delivered with an amuse bouche in the atmospheric but hardly toe-tapping Alpha Omega followed by the song of the night, the mighty set closer New Day which finally sets fire to this particular Camden hive and turns the packed faux-rococo room into a massive dopamine-drenched karaoke box.
All-in-all a beautifully produced and performed show which dutifully aired the latest creations but was maybe a tad light on the staples and trusted favourites. Or maybe just needed the order tweaking. Gorgeous stuff though. And I didn't mention Tool once. Er...