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BIG ELF, London Underworld
25 February 2010
current critical praise being heaped upon Bigelf as darlings of the new
Prog movement, you may well be forgiven for thinking that this is a new
band, fresh on the scene.
In fact the
origins of this L.A. band date back as far as 1991, and their debut
album ‘Closer To Doom' first saw the light of day in 1996. Although
known in Scandanavia and their native America since then, it wasn't
really until the release of their fourth full album, last year's Cheat
The Gallows, that they have started to gain any sort of reputation on
these shores. And it certainly looks like they are making up for lost
by Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy, they appeared as part of that band's
Progressive Nation Tour here last year, alongside Opeth. A few headline
club gigs followed on the back of those dates which were very well
received, and momentum is picking up for them now with this slightly
more extensive run of gigs with Canada's Priestess.
Although not sold out, the Underworld tonight is pretty damn full both
with those already converted the Bigelf cause, and those that are just
plain curious as to what all the fuss is about.
have to wait long to find out as the band kick off this mammoth 2 hour
set with the awesome The Evils Of Rock n Roll, one of the highlights of
Cheat The Gallows - a prime chunk of 70's hard rock with a killer riff,
reminiscent of early Uriah Heep with a hint of Sabbath thrown in for
tonight comprises of just about the whole of the Cheat The Gallows
album, as well as the previous album, 2003's Hex. Early on, we are also
given a taste of the band's earlier output, probably not familiar to
most, with the full on twisted prog assault of Neuropsychopathic Eye - a
heady mix of Van Der Graaf Generator meets King Crimson. In a dark
One of the good things about this band is that although they have a very
distinctive sound, there is still a fair bit of variety within in,
albeit with a fairly retrospective flavour.
Mad Hatter, during which frontman Damon Fox dons trademark top hat, and
Sunshine Suicide display a fine straight ahead 70's hard rock approach,
whilst the Bolan-esque Superstar, Money It's Pure Evil and The Game all
have an attractive pop sensibility to them.
well documented in press interviews the influence The Beatles have had
on Damon's vocal melodies, and Cheap Trick's Robin Zander also springs
to mind in places.
The likes of Hydra, Disappear and a sprawling Bats in the Belfry are
where the band really get to show their full Prog colours with Damon
taking centre stage surrounded by keyboards and even a genuine mellotron
- not one of the easiest instruments to cart around on tour, but
essential for that authentic Prog experience.
In between songs, the banter between audience and band takes on a very
relaxed and quite funny air. Towards the end of the set the band even
have a light-hearted run through a few snippets of various Queen tunes,
suggesting they come back to play a full Queen cover on their next visit
here, probably later in the year. We'll see if they remember to keep
This really was a most enjoyable set from start to finish, and
considering the tickets were a tenner for a two hour set, value for
money too. The band sign off in style with Counting Sheep from the last
album - a song that seems to encapsulate all aspects of the band's style
in one the eleven minute epic.
If this band's star continues to rise as many predict - and they
certainly deserve it - this could go down as quite a legendary show to
photo by Jim Rowland
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