PROTEST THE HERO/TESSERACT
The Classic Grand, Glasgow
Wednesday 5th February 2014
Packed into the warmth of the Classic Grand on a cold Wednesday night in January it's a relief to see that so many other people like me have braved the elements to come out and see these two bands.
So many people have bought tickets, in fact, that the venue is at capacity while my Facebook and Twitter feeds rapidly fill up with messages for those unlucky enough not to have tickets looking for any spares - to no avail one suspects.
The house lights dim and the dry ice begins to drift across the stage as TessercT take to the stage. Ashe O'Hara produces a soft vocal section before the accompanying band adds their embellishment which results in his vocals being slightly drowned out by the thunderous drums from Jay Postones and a heavy bass line courtesy of Amos Williams. The lighting adds a bit more atmosphere to the start of the set too, with the band immersed in the half lights making the effects with the dry ice all the more effective.
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For those who haven't seen TessercT before, the band are less structured in their performance when it comes to specific gaps in between songs, and during the first couple of numbers, there is some chatter amongst the audience as they seem unsure when one song ends and the next one started. Indeed at several points during the performance, small groups were clapping at what they thought was the end of the song when it was merely an interlude.
The thing with bands like TesseracT, though, is that the band are less about structured songs per se, and more about creating a sound-scape of music and lyrics. This becomes almost an artistic performance which some here tonight have never seen the likes of, but let's hope they delve deeper into the bands catalogue and discover a whole new world of music and performance at their fingertips.
With 'Resist', O'Hara stands alone, centre stage with just his ghostly vocals for company before guitarist Alec Kahney joins him for the subtlest of guitar tracks before Postones military style drum pattern is the cue for the rest of the band to return to the stage. The crowd seem to enjoy the performance more by his point with pockets of the audience nodding along in time to the beat.
The audience are treated to 'Deception' from their debut album 'One' (released in 2011) which elicits a good response from the audience as they clap enthusiastically to the intro before a small group of head bangers down the front really get going and it's not long before O'Hara encourages everyone else to get involved with a bit of singing. Bass player Williams comes to the fore here with a funky little solo that is greeted warmly by the audience.
'Singularity' culled from the bands second album, 'Altered State' (released in 2013) is led by Postones solid beats which threaten to drown out O'Haras' vocals but never quite manage it. O'Hara also has a bit of fun with the crowd down the front dousing them in water, although one particular fan recording the gig on his mobile phone seemed quite upset that he (or rather his phone) was soaking.
Maybe he should just enjoy the gig for what it is in future. The band's set finishes rather abruptly catching some of the audience unawares but the faithful shout and cheer for more as the band exits the stage and the house lights come up. There seems to be a lot of TesseracT fans in the audience, and hopefully those who are less familiar with them and their work will make the effort and seek them out, because a band like this needs to be appreciated.
Of Matter - Proxy
Of Matter - Retrospect
Of Matter - Resist
Concealing Fate, Part 2: Deception
Concealing Fate, Part 3: The Impossible
Of Energy - Singularity
Of Mind - Nocturne
Concealing Fate, Part 1: Acceptance
Ashe O'Hara - Vocals
Alec Kahney – Guitar
James Monteith – Guitar
Amos Williams – Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals
Jay Postones – Drums
Official Website: http://tesseractband.co.uk
By the time Protest The Hero hit the stage, the venue is jam packed even more so than during TesseracT's set and the anticipation is almost tangible. The band come straight on stage with no intro and from the get go, the venue jumps into life.
Guitarist Luke Hoskin finger taps his way through the solo while vocalist Rody Walker presses the flesh with the faithful down the front. Being a sold out gig, space is at a premium and every available vantage point is coveted and those down the front push forward even more towards the stage to try and greet Walker.
'Hair-Trigger' gives the audience no let up as the band pile throttle the song at full throttle. Even this early in the band's set, the floor of the venue is a mass of bodies as some jostle for a better view at the front of the stage while others try and start a circle pit in between others who are just trying to get the best possible view. Utter mayhem, but no one seems to care as they are all enjoy the Protest The Hero live experience.
This experience extends beyond the usual role of the front man for Walker who becomes half vocalist/half comedian during the evening.
Pausing at one point, he produces a bottle of well known (in Central Scotland anyway) tonic wine much to the delight of the audience who start to chant "down in one!" Having never heard of the brand before, Walker delights in telling us that the bands merchandise guy, Scott Patterson, hails from Glasgow and said that they should try it.
Walker does concede that "there's no way I'm downing this on one" although to his due (and much to the delight of the audience), he does actually try it commenting on its fruity taste which doesn't seem to be quite what he expected. Walker does seem to like the taste though and can be seen on and off during the rest of band's set going back time and again for a sip.
Back to the band's set, Walker looks for everyone's "Vulcan hand signs" to be in the air as the band play 'Clarity' (for which the official video features Star Wars fans vs. Star Trek fans) which has the venue going once again with the audience don't disappoint during the choruses as the hand signals are raised whilst shouting the words as though their lives depended on it.
'The Dissentience' has a fast intro that keeps the circle pit in the centre of the venue going but on stage, the guitar solo from Hoskin is all but drowned out by the combination of vocals and drums although the issue is resolved by the time the song ends.
Again Walker gets to play with the audience a bit, asking everyone to stand still and in silence before asking everyone to lift their feet at the same time demonstrating how sticky the floor is - much to the amusement of band and audience - before inviting audience member Grant up on to the stage to have his picture taking with the band – eventually, as it seems that iphones are "crap for taking pictures with!"
A soundbite from 'The Wizard Of Oz' signals a rendition of 'Heretics & Killers' which has Walker orchestrating the community sing along before rhythm guitarist, Tim Millar, plays a good if short solo. A fast and frantic rendition of 'Bloodmeat' proves this band don't need gimmicks to keep the audience enthralled because their back catalogue more than makes up for a lack of stage set or on-stage effects.
Heading towards the end of their performance, we're treated to a storming version of 'Blindfolds Aside' and as the band finally wraps up their set there seems to be a slight air of disappointment in the crowd would have quite happily stayed for another few hours had the band been allowed to continue playing.
Protest The Hero have a good solid fan base in Glasgow and there's no doubt they enjoyed playing here as much as the audience did. Let's just hope that the next time the band book a gig in Glasgow they pick a bigger venue or play at the Classic Grand for two nights because there certainly a lot of people who would go on both nights.
Heretics & Killers
Bury the Hatchet
C'est la Vie
Tilting Against Windmills
Protest The Hero are:
Rody Walker – Vocals
Luke Hoskin – Lead Guitar/Piano/Backing Vocals
Tim Millar – Rhythm Guitar/Piano/Backing Vocals
Arif Mirabdolbaghi – Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals
Mike Leradi – Drums
Protest The Hero Online:
Official Website: www.protestthehero.ca
Rody Walker picture - (c) Rhodri Owen
Protest The Hero band picture - (c) Chris McFall