Whilst a room attached to a town hall doesn't immediately look like it lends itself to being a venue for a rock gig, Islington’s Assembly Hall gave the event a sophisticated atmosphere.
Opening up the proceedings were Barbe-Q-Barbies, a Finnish all-girl rock band. This seemed like an odd choice in comparison to the other two acts- playing more straight-up rock and roll with a mixture of punk and glam thrown in for good measure. Their set was fast paced and full of energy, with no frills attached.
When Haken took to the stage with their complex and highly involved music, the atmosphere became more serious. With their faces set in concentration, it was still plain to see that they were revelling in their constantly evolving and changing music. The music, which took ideas of progressive rock and metal music, with the added element of instrumental Jazzy, circus-metal breakdowns, during which the singer- following on the tradition of Jazz musicians- left the stage to allow the instrumentalists to have the full glare of the spotlight. The band’s high level of musicianship was shown by their use of more unusual guitars- 7 strings and 8 strings, along with a 6 string bass, which added to the texture and range of the music. Debuting a new track which went down well with the audience, the constantly changing time signatures still ensuring that people trying to keep up with the music were kept on their toes.
The Van Hortzen Brothers’ set took in many tracks from their latest album, Nine Lives as well as tracks from their earlier releases. Live, the Von Hertzen Brother’s showed that intelligent music does not have to be flashy or ostentatious, which allowed them greater freedom of movement on-stage, whilst still playing intricate parts and taking full use of the vocal harmonies which are part of their trademark sound. Highlights of the set included an electric performance of the lead single from Nine Lives, ‘Flowers and Rust’, which proved to the audience that underneath the intricate and exciting effects played on an old fashioned Moog synthesiser, The Von Hertzen Brothers are still most certainly a rock and roll band.
(All photos Nick Webb, 2013)