This isn’t just the only UK date on Gazpacho’s Molok tour, but it’s also support act iamthemorning’s sophomore London show.
Last time the Russian duo were over here was back in April when they made their debut on the Prog stage at Desertfest, but tonight all eyes and ears are on them. Performing as a chamber quartet, with accompanying violin and cello, their delicate sound completely hushes the audience even if it is occasionally drowned out by the venue’s air conditioning. Marjana Semkina’s sweet voice is accentuated by Gleb Kolyadin’s wonderful piano, adding a different kind of drama to songs like Scotland and To Human Misery. In between, she captivates everyone with her droll anecdotes. “This is our only cheerful song, and it’s all about pain and death!” she says matter-of-factly, as she introduces Would This Be.
As the final notes of swan song K.O.S. reverberate from the stage, one audience member exclaims: “Spectacular!” And there are murmurs of agreement nearby. It might have taken iamthemorning a while to get discovered, but judging from tonight, it shouldn’t be long before they’re playing bigger stages.
Gazpacho just seem to be getting better and better. They’ve always excelled when it comes to creating beautiful melodies with a mischievous edge, but since the release of Demon and more recently Molok, they’re on a steady upward curve. The man behind me reveals he’s travelled all the way from Sri Lanka to see the Norwegian band, and he gets his money’s worth; tonight they’re as slick as the well-oiled Molok itself.
Projections of mathematical equations fill the stage as the story of the rogue counting machine unfurls against Gazpacho’s mesmerising melodies. So hypnotic is the combination that the venue feels at least twice the size. New songs like Algorithm sit perfectly alongside older tracks like Defense Mechanism. Then there’s the lush The Wizard of Altai Mountains, which takes on a new life live as the band break out trombone, tambourine and ukulele for the jig Tanets Kolduna.
The band are perfect; Jan-Henrik Ohme’s vocals are faultless too as he moves between songs, briefly pausing to express relief that, despite playing their doomsday track Molok Rising, we’re all still here. More adventurous and more experimental than ever, Gazpacho know how to push the musical boundaries and the results are absolutely breathtaking. Topping this is going to be quite a challenge but it’s one Gazpacho are more than capable of doing. If you missed this tour, you really missed out.