Gazpacho is one of those bands that feel like well-kept secrets – groups with extensive discographies that are revered within their musical scene and command dedicated fanbases, but are virtually unknown to a more mainstream audience that may well love their work. Those “in the know” gathered on Bank Holiday Monday at the Dome in London’s Tufnell Park, where the Norwegian art/prog-rock collective were showcasing their newly released tenth album.
The emphasis in the setlist was on songs from Soyuz – their new record exploring the fleetingness of beautiful moments, inspired among others by the iconic Soviet space mission it’s named after, and the cosmonaut who lost his life during it. The opening duo of the hypnotic slow-burner ‘Soyuz One’ and the Muse-inspired rocker ‘Hypomania’ displayed how suited the new songs are to live performance, while the stunning visuals projected on a stage screen engrossed the crowd in the atmosphere of the new tracks.
In concert, Gazpacho are like different machines on a factory conveyor belt, each member doing different things that are essential for the final result. The richness of their arrangements was evident in how often Mikael Krømer would change between violin and a number of different guitars (including a frankly adorably small mandolin, with a sound a hundred times bigger than its size). Tucked away behind his keyboards, Thomas Andersen was conducting the various samples that further enrich Gazpacho’s music, ranging from electronic percussive soundscapes to spoken-word sections. Leading the collective and tying everything together is vocalist Jan Henrik’s, whose voice has much in common with the tense expressiveness of a 90s Thom Yorke, but paired with the controlled delivery of Marillion’s Steve Hogarth.
In addition to the brand new Soyuz, the setlist walked across their extensive discography, with a considerable presence from 2004’s Night – the album that solidified the Norwegians on the progressive rock scene. The mesmerising ‘Upside Down’ was among the highlights of the evening, unfolding layer after layer of beauty in the space of its almost ten minutes. Longer songs are quite characteristic for the band, but Gazpacho’s material always develops, never drags on. The main set was closed by ‘Soyuz Out’ whose steady build-up and cathartic ending provides the emotional climax of both the record and the concert.
After close to two and a half hours of music, the Norwegians bowed out to well-deserved applause. Off the back of one of their best works, Gazpacho delivered a mesmerising show for both the ears and the eyes, proving why they are held as a leading voice in modern progressive rock.
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