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The Met, Bury, 23 February 2012

Hayley Griffiths, Karnataka

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.

Hayley Griffiths, Karnataka

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 this year.

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'.

'Your 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 deliver.

Hayley Griffiths, Karnataka

Hayley Griffiths, Karnataka

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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David Randall presents 'Assume The Position' on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays 22:00 GMT


Gig review (Bilston 19.02.12)


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