Tag Archives: progressive

Muse Just That

Muse, the hard rocking band that has taken the world by storm over these last several years appeared at Oakland Coliseum Wednesday April 14, 2010. Older work by this band focused on rapid-fire metal compositions, but more recently they moved into more of a glam-alternative-stadium rock direction which mixes in elements of progressive and classical music. Put together Queen, Green Day, and Pink Floyd with an occasional disco beat and you get a new unique sound achieved by Muse. Wednesday night the band focused on more recent releases, 2006’s Black Holes and Revelations and last year’s The Resistance to deliver the right mix of these varied styles.

The show was simply spectacular. The staging was unique as each core band member appeared within a set of three huge towers stretching from stage to ceiling, on which live and collected images were projected to stunning effect. The lower sections of these towers were lifts which alternately rose and lowered to embellish the stage below.

The music was equally exceptional, as singer Matthew Bellamy (voice, guitars, keyboards) manages to hit all of his notes and somehow preserve his vocals through long tours, partly due to the band’s deft management of sound dynamics. Outstanding band mates Christopher Wolstenholme (bass), and Dominic Howard (drum) also take leads, but alternately lower and raise the volume during verses and choruses so everything can be heard.

Only complaint would be that Matthew spent too little time at the piano this time around, given he is an excellent pianist obviously influenced by classical composers such as Rachmaninoff . Also at times one could say Muse is almost too perfect live, threatening to lose a bit of the emotional punch of the tracks. Given the staging and performance itself is so expansive and aggressive, these issues are overcome making this spectacle truly amazing and highly recommended.

Yes Transcends

Asia Opening
Asia Opening

Finally!  After a year of uncertainty about the future of Yes, I am pleased to report here that the show last night at the Warfield theater in San Francisco exceeded my expectations making the long wait worthwhile.  Asia opened and played a set list that included several songs from their debut, two tracks from the followup, and one from the most recent release. Group members presented something from their past –  John Wetton (King Crimson/In the Court of the Crimson King), Geoff Downes (The Buggles/Video Killed the Radio Star), and Carl Palmer (ELP/Fanfare for the Common Man), each representing a bit of the the history of their 1970’s bands.  While Asia was always this “progressive supergroup gone pop”, their work was pleasent, powerful and certainly less angular than their predecessors.  John Wetton is one of my favorite vocalists and he delivered with accurate, clear vocals throughout the show – awesome and unexpected after all these years.

When Yes took the stage for the opening track, “Siberian Khatru”, any fears that this ensemble would have troubles melted away.  This first track would be a litmus test for any band, given the complex interlocking passages and strong harmonies. This band showed right away that they are up to the task, as Chris Squire (bass), Steve Howe (guitars), and Alan White (drums) played as well as I have seen, and seemed to enjoy themselves during the almost two hour set. Though this music calls for precision timing and accuracy, the band kept a the slight looseness to some passages which added to the experience.  The only minor complaint for me is that while Oliver covered his father’s material (and Geoff/Tony) faithfully, he never really stood out in the mix, but that has been a common affliction of Yes keyboard players other than Rick Wakeman.

Siberian Khatru
Siberians

Most important was the question – would the absence of lead singer Jon Anderson, the zen center of Yes, render the show a lesser form?  Would the emotional integrity of the experience be intact?  Covering for Jon Anderson is even more difficult than what we have seen with other ’70’s acts such as Alan Parsons, Journey, Foreigner, Boston, etc. because Jon is so much part of the fabric of the whole Yes experience.  The main reason most of us love this band is simple, and goes beyond exceptional musicianship and compositions – its that when Yes hits it marks, we are taken somewhere on a transcendent journey, getting in touch with an energy outside ourselves.  The band construct these intense, chaotic passages, which build, and then shift into the most angelic, harmonic major-chord-based resolves imaginable.  Jon seems at the heart of this journey, embodying his spiritual lyrics – often obtuse, but imparting radiant, positive messages.  When this is presented properly in a live concert setting, the results are powerful.  On this night, of course we missed seeing Jon himself, but even without him in this lineup, all was well in the Yes universe.

The current vocalist Benoit David has Continue reading Yes Transcends

Ozric Tentacles Indescribable at the Independent

The Ozrics Live
The Ozrics Live

How many adjectives does it take to describe a band’s sound? Defining the sound of instrumental band Ozric Tentacles could take a couple dozen, but might best be summarized as “psychedelic-hippy-jam-trance-reggae-space-rock.” More to the point, listening to a track from the 2000 release “The Hidden Step,” my son Aidan described them as “Arabian porn music!” In reality, the Ozrics mix jazz-fusion, reggae/dub, and space-rock forms with eastern flavored trance/ambient, sequencers and sound effects, creating a unique brew that is truly their own. Listen to the track “Sunhair” from 1993’s “Jurassic Shift” and you will know instantly if this music is for you. If it is, you will find more than 25 varied and rewarding album releases to explore.

Ed Wynne
Ed Wynne

Last Wednesday night, May 27, 2009 at the Independent, founding member guitarist-synth player Ed Wynne led what is now a four piece band through a cosmic three hour set. The set list included several earlier tracks, such as “Saucers” from 1991’s “Stangeitude” (a personal favorite) which Ed played on acoustic guitar.  These identifiable tracks were needed to balance the more jam-band oriented excursions, and I would have preferred more of them, particularly in the second half of the show. During many of these segments the keyboards were too far back in the mix, robbing the sound of some of the more trance-inspired bits. Still it was an amazing set, and very effectively showcased new material from 2009’s superb “The Yum Yum Tree“.

This unique band Continue reading Ozric Tentacles Indescribable at the Independent