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Robin 2, Bilston, 19 February 2012

Karnataka, photo by Andrew Lock
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Sundays are a regular slot for prog rock at the Robin 2 and this show was a real treat, I remember buying Karnataka's 'Delicate Flame of Desire' album and starting to really get into this band and looking forward to seeing them perform only to have them split up before I could get the chance.

Thankfully the band returned to action not to long after the split and in 2010 they released the excellent 'The Gathering Light' album, this current tour sees a few changes to the line-up that recorded that album but founder member Ian Jones is still on board.

Karnataka, photo by Andrew Lock

Of the line-up that recorded the last studio album as well as Ian on bass, lead guitarist Enrico Pinna (a guitarist of exceptional quality) is still in the band and the new members are, on lead vocals the girl with the crystal clear vocals Hayley Griffiths, multi -talented Colin Mold on guitars and violin, Cagri Tozluoglu supplying the keyboards and Matt McDonough on the drums (a powerful drummer as the broken stick I found on the floor after the gig will testify!).

No support band just two sets of the most uplifting progressive rock music you could ask for, intelligent well structured numbers, soaring guitar work, beautiful vocals - both Hayley's lead and the band's harmonies - and all held together a top rhythm section, on this tour they are showcasing the majority of 'The Gathering Light' album plus a selection of back catalogue favourites.

Karnataka, photo by Andrew Lock

To set the mood before the band took to the stage, as the lights started to dim an intro tape consisting of a suite of instrumental melodies from several of the band's numbers combined with atmospheric ocean and wind sound effects resonated around the room, one of the most effective intros I have heard for a long time.

After the intro music the guys in the band hit the stage for an instrumental burst and then with Hayley's arrival it was straight into the band's latest material with the magnificent 'The Serpent and the Sea', a bright, breezy, flowing number, with a touch of folk rock (for me the band add a touch of folk rock to their sound with great effect now and again).

The first set also included the sublime 'Delicate Flame of Desire', (the title track of the band's highly successful 2003 album) beautiful, delicate with possibly a touch of Enya about it and from the same album another cracker 'After the Rain', one of the evenings highlights was an emotional 'Forsaken' from the latest release with its beautiful keyboard work.

The small technical hitch at the start of the 2nd set was dealt with quickly and with friendly/humorous banter between the audience and a couple of band members, and was soon sorted.

The second set started with a selection of numbers showcasing the talents of different sections of the band beginning with a violin piece performed to perfection by Colin, then it was time for Hayley to sing the exquisite 'Our Love' a track from her solo album 'Silver Screen' accompanied by Cagri on keyboards.

After her turn she said she needed time to cool down so left us in the safe hands of the guys for the instrumental 'State of Grace', its gentle slow burning opening gradually building slowly but surely a tour-de-force of a number.

The second set also included a return to the Delicate Flame album with another of that release's highlights 'Heart of Stone' and a real highlight of the evening was the title track of the latest work, the out and out epic of the evening with its at times Celtic feel 'The Gathering Light'.

My wait to see Karnataka was well worth it and this was a top quality show from start to the finish, so many standouts, the atmospheric opening, the real feel good quality that flows through the band's music, the sensational vocals of Hayley (she also had a fantastic selection of outfits), and last but not least the magnificent musicianship of the band as a whole.

Review and photos by Andrew Lock


Gig review (Bury, 23.02.12)


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