Wednesday, October 7, 2009

StuArt's Review of Magma, Barbican, London - October 6 2009

Magma – London Barbican 6 October 2009.

London’s Barbican Centre is a neo modern mass of concrete luxury apartment blocks and arts centre. It was probably quite futuristic at one point – like the movie ‘A Clockwork Orange’ I find it dated and quite freaky. Anyway my friends & I get in at about 19:15 and find the hall. We have just a few minutes to check out the merchandising stalls. CDs are a good value £12 and I get the last 3 to complete my Magma studio collection. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) they don’t accept cards and when I turn round and see the other stall with T-shirts and the live ACT CDs and DVDs I’m down to my change. I manage to scrape enough for a Gold/Black logo T-shirt but they only have it in XXL so I have to settle for a black/red logo shirt in my size. Then I see the live in Japan 2CD for £30 and I want it but I’m out of cash… time.

I have a look round in the foyer and there’s a real mix of people. I was expecting a 90% stereotype of slightly balding, 45 year old males with raincoats and glasses – a gathering of me’s in other words – but no a whole host of people are here, parents have brought there teenage children and teenage children have brought their parents, I’m quite pleased.

Settling down in our seats and they are superb 8th row just left of centre. The Barbican is superbly raked, so we can all see, and the chairs are padded, with wide leg room – heaven.

The lights dim and a collection of about 8 silver robed people walk onto the stage, one approaches a full sized harp – Chrome Hoof have taken the stage. Then their beautiful Amazonian lead singer Lola Olafisoye takes command and leads their space ritual. They are hard to describe – two dancers appear – women dressed as in Buck Rogers (70’s era) meets mad Max and perhaps that’s how to describe CH’s music. Rock – Disco ? Certainly lots of cosmic sounds that Hawkwind would like but with a hard edge rhythm – sometimes like Einsterzenden Naubauten - driving them, and all with Lola’s awesome vocals. Spectacular to watch. Then JP Massiera joins them, being lead onto the stage by the two dancers. He is obviously revered by many in the crowed, so I’m probably going to upset a few by saying this but apart from a few strange guttural noises, a poem & a few hits on a drum synth – why? I’ll leave that there.

So onto Magma. My 5th Magma show, the last 2 being the Nancey Jazz pulsations festival in 2007 – where they did their 4 decades retrospective, fantastic. So I was expecting a lot. I know Himiko and Antoine Pagnotti have left but it doesn’t really hit me until Herve Aknin walks across the stage, stands up to the microphone and is directly blocking out my view of CV. Slag Tanz starts and I’m annoyed – I want Himiko & Antoine. This is a heavy piece and it quite shocks me, the vocals are hard, the drums pound and the bass thunders – its full on powerful and then drops down with the celestial voices of Stella and Isabelle, but not for long as the bass blasts off again with CV’s drums and another heavy section, it builds and drops floats for a while and then gets heavy for the final section. Magma in a microcosm. Good Magma, Classic Magma. Phew. About 12 mins. An enthusiastic crowed applause.

Next is Felicite Thoz – after the opening crashes it extends into a beautiful vocal exchange between the 3 vocalists and CV’s delicate drums. Half way through the crowed think its over as the vocal passage ends and Bruno Ruder solos on his Fender Rhodes. The others apart from CV leave the stage. Bruno runs up and down his FR and the reverbed sounds float around the hall. The rest of the band join in and the piece builds for the second section and the climax. This is a great Fender Rhodes heavy version of this.

After the applause Stella speaks to the crowed and introduces the next song from their next album ‘out next month’ E –R.

Large drum crashes, vocals and Benoit Alziary’s vibraphone feature at the start. It moves into the heavier section and Herve features on vocals again and is excellent and seems to fit in perfectly. We get a bit of James’ guitar soloing now as the piece builds. In the middle it drops again and Herve is superb again with Stella and Isabelle providing harmonies. The piece builds for its final climax and all musicians are working full on together, seeming to enjoy themselves and their art. Then down and its all over. A 43 minute song.

Stella then thanks every one and introduces the band and they play out with a great version of Kobaia which features a great guitar solo by James. 12 mins and it’s really all over. I want more but there is none until next time. I hope its not another 5 years until they play in London again.

Overall – Superb!! It was great to hear the new pieces from the new CD. The sound for me was excellent and I could hear every instrument perfectly. I introduced some friends to Magma and they were amazed. A great night, thanks to all especially the band.



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