Although progressive rock is riding a wave of resurgent popularity, it still feels anachronistic to be attending a prog gig in the ground zero of London’s hipster scene. As if to stake their claim for the team, Madrid’s Toundra walk on to the tail-end of Pink Floyd’s Fearless (complete with Liverpool football chant), presumably with hope in their hearts.
It is certainly a fitting scene-setter. The quartet’s version of post-rock is clearly born out of a deep love of early Floyd. Strelka, the opening track from this year’s IV, channels the cyclical electric folk reel of David Gilmour’s arpeggios from the instrumental section of Echoes. As it builds from pastoral beginnings, guitarist Esteban Girón becomes more animated until he is practically dancing a jig – no mean feat when encumbered with a Les Paul – and it’s not long before his denim shirt becomes navy with the sweat. His energy and passion are infectious and reciprocated between songs with vociferous acclaim from the crowd, which includes a sizeable Spanish quotient.
Guitar duties are shared with recent recruit Macón, resulting in a thick and loud layered sound. While some of their peers specialise in and (in some cases) hide behind a wall of volume, Toundra’s music does not rely on mere power or
a formulaic quiet/loud contrast. The guitars weave low and high frequencies, ensuring that melody is at the heart of every song. Macón even takes a couple of searing E-Bow solos, most notably in the beautiful and cathartic Kitsune.
In their home country they have played with string and brass sections to round out the increasingly orchestral ambitions of their newest material. Tonight though, it’s all about perspiration and soaring lyricism.
Towards the end of the set a temperamental bass amp starts to suffer from the heat and needs cooling off on a couple of occasions. Each time, Girón laughs as the rest of the band keep going sans bassist. They’re having way too much fun to let a mere technical fault get in the way, and thankfully the amp behaves itself to allow the completion of a storming set.
Wearing their influences on their sleeves, the band-picked walk off music is King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man, leaving no doubt that when it comes to prog, Toundra are not pussyfooting.