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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

A View From The Back Of The Room: Magenta

Magenta & The Kinky Wizzards, The Globe Cardiff

On a glorious Friday night myself and my lovely other half made our way to the Globe for our first of 2 gigs at the venue in the same number of days. As is only natural with us both gigs couldn't be more different as the first was a night with Welsh prog rockers Magenta, this was the first date on a short tour to support their new, unreleased album We Are Legend. It was two band bill with Magenta headlining but opening the night was instrumental jazz rockers The Kinky Wizzards (8), the three piece play loud, funky jazz fusion driven by the rhythm section of Mathew Griffiths on bass and his brother Jonathan on drums, Jonathan or Jiffy was pulling double duty tonight as he was also the drummer for Magenta.

It was their thick grooves that drove the bands interesting virtuoso sound with Ryan Elliot contributing the jazzy guitar licks and involuntary dancing during the groove sessions. The songs are probably all intensely rehearsed but sounded organic on stage, Door Dancing Penny Collector and Freespirit the obvious stand outs. Halfway through the set the brothers Griffiths went into their bass and drum only song Thunder but as Elliot rejoined they dived into an exemplary cover of YYZ by Rush, now a Rush cover is usually frowned upon but seeing as The Kiny Wizzards have been playing this at pubs around The Valleys and Cardiff in front of people who have no idea who Rush are, they deserve credit for commitment. The Kinky Wizzards are a very good band indeed, I'm never a huge fan of instrumental bands but they do very well and keep the attention of even the most narrow-minded fan. Like Primus fronted by Jeff Beck it was perfect set up for what was to come.

Not much of change over and the criminally underrated, often overlooked, local progressive rockers arrived onstage to heroes welcome. Kicking things off with Trojan from a as yet unreleased record is a ballsy move but one that is oft-repeated with prog bands. Their fans are expecting experimentation and as such greet any new material as a greatest hit. Trojan was a very loud synth-heavy rocker that apparently is about robots pole dancing, according to singer Christina backed up by a knowing nod from keyboardist Rob Reed. If the first song was unfamiliar then that wasn't the case with the second song of the night as it was the perennial favourite Speechless that was the first song of the night to really display Tina's amazing vocals, with an almost Kate Bush-like range of emotion and expression she captivates throughout and her between song banter is easy and humorous, greeting the corwd as old friends while complaining of cramp in her legs and pointing out when Rob was absorbing potassium from a well needed banana. 

Taking songs from all of their albums Envy from their debut was the first elongated showstopper (one of many), a massive progfest driven by Reed's keys and Chris Fry's guitar, Fry especially cranked out solo after solo moving between electric and acoustic as all night. The band have touches of Yes present on the seriously folky Anger which starts out with acoustic guitar and vocals, then proceeds to be hauntingly heavy and also beautiful when the full band kicks in. The band were all on fire with particular kudos to Jiffy behind the drums who learnt the whole set in about 3 days, which is an astonishing feat considering the complexity of some of these songs. There were a few songs aired from the new album with the industrial-tinged Legend another stand out that builds into a dramatic crescendo. 

Now this is the part where I actually fell in love with Christina, the band were about to play the beautiful Pearl, it's a slower, quiet song and she warned those in attendance to be quiet during it. So as the bluesy track kicked off the band were getting into full swing and while singing Tina told one couple on the stairs to shut the fuck up, before glaring at a group behind us who were talking loudly. The feisty Cardiff lass clearly has the same gig bugbear as me, if you want to talk to your mates during the gig go outside, especially if the band are not death metal, you can be heard I'm afraid, so have bit of respect.

As the set drew to a close we got the frankly amazing Colours from the new album which is about Van Gogh and starts out as an offbeat haunted lullaby, then kicks in to a huge riff. There's an urgent sense of paranoia about this song it's jittery in the verses but has free reign on he chorus of "set me free"From there is was time for the thumping Demons filled with old school prog organs and Floydian guitar phrasing before the vocals even come in, the final shot before the encore was a snippet of Metamorphosis (the full song is 20 odd minutes). With rapturous applause it was a short curtain call and the band were back on stage and straight into the always well-received The Lizard King

The last song after the goodbyes etc was Pride which is probably the band's most Yes-like song and sees Reed and Fry sparring with each other until the finale. Before tonight Magenta (9) had always escaped me, I had never seen them before and after this gig I was kicking myself, effortless intense progressive rock music that isn't at all po-faced or hard to consume, gloriously musical and effortlessly done Magenta are well worth your time.  

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