This has to be one of my most anticipated shows to cover this year so far, as Polyphia make their return to the UK to play a packed house at London’s Sheperd’s Bush Empire. Credited by many as one of the most influential bands of the modern age, led by virtuoso guitarists Tim Henson and Scott LePage, Clay Gober on Bass and Clay Aeschliman hitting the skins, this four-piece is sure to deliver something special this evening.
Polyphia – Johan Lenox
Shepherds Bush Empire, London – 11 May 2023
Words and Photography: Lawrence Potter
The doors open around 7 pm, and at about 7:45, the first act of the evening, Johan Lenox takes to the stage. It was certainly a stark contrast from our headliner, but this was a nice way to start the night off. Johan’s music takes inspiration from hip-hop and adds classical undertones that create a unique listening experience.
As his set was drawing to a conclusion, we were treated to an original classical composition alongside a couple of very talented violin players who had one day to prepare. I’m impressed!
After a half-hour intermission, the lights go out, the crowd erupts, and on walks Polyphia. The band go straight into Genesis, followed up by Neurotica. The place is absolutely buzzing.
It’s been a couple of years since the band has ventured to the other side of the pond. With their release of 2022’s Remember You Will Die album, the band has truly fallen into the spotlight, taking the music world by storm.
Polyphia are not reinventing the wheel. They’re tearing it a new one. The band take influence from a vast array of musical elements, including hip-hop, progressive rock and Metal, to create an innovative sound that is truly a treat for the ears.
Near the end, Tim Henson briefly goes off stage to retrieve his famous nylon-stringed guitar, at which point we all know what is coming. Yep, it’s Playing God. Straight after a stunning rendition of the song, the band say their goodbyes, but they can’t resist the packed house chanting “ONE MORE!” in unison.
So after a couple of minutes..well, maybe not even that, the band return and agree to play one more if the crowd could give them a wall of death in return.
The fans are more than happy to abide, and with that, Tim and Scott dive right into G.O.A.T, then into a cover of CKY’s 96 Quite Bitter Beings and ending on Euphoria.
As always, Polyphia put on a flawless performance, never hitting a bum note. Experiencing these guys live is truly something else. The talent that these four young men have is humbling, and they do a perfect job recreating the same energy from their recordings to the stage effortlessly.