The rise-fall-rise-fall of Karnataka is a little like the ebb and flow
of the gushing tide that greeted us audibly at the start of their set.
Emerging out of the new wave of UK prog in the late-nineties with bands
like Mostly Autumn and a renascent Pallas, the line-up has reconfigured
a few times now. Most recently, shortly after the release of possibly
their finest album to date - The Gathering Light (which also gathered
some of their best reviews) - the band imploded leaving stalwart Ian
Jones to return to the birthing chamber.
Now only Ian and guitarist Enrico Pinna remain
from the last line-up and - having been silenced for more than 12 months
- they are easing their way back and making up for lost time. But
Karnataka don't do things in halves: nine gigs into their first tour with
the new line-up they are filming a multi-camera DVD for release later
Hayley Griffiths is simply wonderful and provides a theatrical, West
End sheen to the proceedings.
But the real revelation tonight is not the jimmy jib - that sweeping
camera that looks like it will scalp even the least exposed tonsure - but
Karnataka's new singer. Hayley Griffiths is simply wonderful and
provides a theatrical, West End sheen to the proceedings. She made the
Karnataka songbook her own, revealing many a song's hidden depths
whether it be an exquisite 'Heaven Can Wait' and 'Heart Of Stone' or the
newer material such as 'The Serpent And The Sea' and 'Forsaken'.
World' was the only really - dare I say - rocky number on offer
tonight. It may have got the biggest cheer of
the night. Karnataka need to rock out more, and Hayley certainly showed she can
Multi-instrumentalist Colin Mold provides additional
texture on violin (where he doubled for the great Troy Donockley) and
although I thought Cagri's keys were a bit low in the mix he acquitted
himself well, together with the other new boy, drummer and MC Matt
McDonough. And of
course Enrico Pinna's guitar figures will appeal to those well
educated in the school of prog.
What a week! It started with the majestic prog of Steve Hackett, whose
seventies 'beat combo' has of course influenced Ian Jones, and ended
with the new prog on the block. Just as majestic in its own way and -
now - fully rejuvenated. What a triumph.
Review, interview and photos by David Randall
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