I’ve been to many gigs by my favourite bands to find that the crowd are very much observers. At Vai I listened to one of the most technically advanced players on the planet and saw a thousand people stroking their chins in analysis at the great man. At Yes most people were in their 50’s, and seeing an old dude get his kit off to Heart of the Sunrise is not my idea of fun! For me gigs are a place to hear the music as the band intended it. A place to immerse yourself in the music and bask in the waves of sound. This gig I’m pleased to say had the best crowd I’ve seen in a while. there were dancers at the front, observers at the back and enough room for everyone.
I’ve been a fan of Diagonal for at least 2 years now, and I wont lie, my view on them may be tilted towards them here. Wolf People were a fantastic band and I think they have real potential if they continue to work at what they do and not rest on what’s safe. We arrived half way through Diagonal’s second song to one of the fullest live sounds I think I’ve ever heard. The crowd was a myriad of types from the casual observers to the professional prog swayers. We took our positions back and to the left, and shot our heads full of sound.
Diagonal’s first album is really a great start. For a début album the quality is just brilliant. It’s almost like a second Court of the Crimson King in a way. It’s got the heavy rough music, the subtle undertones of sadness, and enough depth of sound to drown in. Since then the guys have lost 2 members, but they are by no means any less talented. This is the kind of band that when there’s a progressive revival will float to the top like a proggy cork in the sea.
The guitar/sax harmonies have been revamped and beefed up since the last album, so it has a really full sound that I’m looking forward to hearing with studio quality recording. It was clear right away that they had spent a long time on the new songs to get them just right, I mean they did spend years on this baby. There’s a flow in the music that never really halts but it’s always slowly progressing so things are always interesting. I will say though, that while the sound was very well developed it did stay within a set style/mood most of the way through. The sound they have is obviously well developed, but it would’ve been awesome to hear more deviations from the sound they’re so comfortable with.
I was there with my girlfriend and quite often girls and Prog Rock don’t mix. I think part of it is for the tendancy for Prog Rock to get a bit pretentious at times. This, I’m happy to say, was not the case with Diagonal. The great all-round sound makes the music very accessible, so you don’t have to be a Canterbury native to appreciate their sound.
For more on Diagonal check out their site here.
Taking a deviation from the music here Diagonal have always been a tough band to keep up with in terms of when they’re playing gigs, what’s happening with the band and I couldn’t help but notice there are no new t-shirts. The music does come first but I only found out about the gig 3 days before through a lucky last.fm browse. I guarantee there are a ton of fans out there that missed the gig purely on not knowing it was on. Also, Myspace pages don’t count as band websites!
Although I was there to see Diagonal Wolf People were the main band and to their credit they held up very well, and seemed genuinely grateful to have Diagonal as a support. Often you see bands that get too big for their boots and act like they’re already famous as soon as they start getting a few gigs in more popular venues. I don’t feel I can do these guys justice yet because I only heard of them a few days prior to the gig, so everything here is as a first impression.
Something I absolutely loved about Wolf People was that while singing the frontman had a really folk/English/Genesis country sound to his voice, kind of like Selling England by the pound(link). But then when he was speaking to the crowd, a wild London accent appeared. They were obviously good friends by their on stage demeanour and the drummer was one of the tightest I’ve seen in a long time.
They brought out a flute player for one song who was clearly loving the chance to be Ron Burgundy for the night. My only regret is that there was no cover of Aqualung. Luckily a collection of excellent beards and some decent songs of their own made up for it. They had one song that I couldn’t quite place that was a kind of AC/DC Black Sabbath crossover, and guys I remember what it was now, it was Hells Bells(link). I also, oddly, met Tom the Drummer’s cousin, but more on that in the next section.
For more on Wolf People check out their site here.
Welcome back! The gig was small enough that as Wolf People were playing I noticed the distinct black and white t-shirt of Diagonal’s bassist at the bar and had to go say hi. It’s the first time I’ve talked to someone I’d consider a successfull prog rocker, and he had so much to say. Among other things we talked about the size of the scene, how difficult it is to make money in, how they’re going about writing the new album, and all chilled out in this tiny venue in North London. Perfect! Then once Wolf People had finished the set we got into a chat with the Drummer Tom and his cousin.
I highly recommend going to see Wolf People and Diagonal if you can. Both bands are at a very exciting time where they’re developing and refining their sound to the level that anything could happen. As well as some old time classics Diagonal have some monster new tracks in the works, and Wolf People are riding the wave with the release of their new album. Beyond that though, the gigs are still small enough that the sound is great, and you can meet the band very easily after the show.
Good work Guys