Karnataka – The Met, Bury – 27th May 2022
When it’s not being a hub and magnet for all sorts of folk-related shenanigans, The Met pulls its fair share of Rock, Prog and vintage bands into the rather splendid surroundings of what used to be known as, and to some still is, The Derby Hall. A location that might feature in Joy Division folklore with the famous ‘riot’ of 1980 but these days is a venue that’s highly regarded on the circuit as one that welcomes the musicians who in turn always deliver a grand show for the ticketholders.
And over the last quarter century, while Karnatka have shapeshifted and morphed into various forms, at the core has been Ian Jones. He jokes (maybe?) about already having the title – “Was It Something I Said?” – for his history of the band as he leads the newest version of Karnataka and I for one would love his insights as well as a Pete Frame style family tree. His partnership with Agnieszka Swita in Illuminae (their Dark Horizons was one of our top albums of 2021) has taken up some of his recent times, but the day job is back. It’s a tour entitled New Dawn Rising (rather than the New Dawn Fades of Joy Division) and it’s a show packed with classic Karnataka and a handful of new songs.
This new-ish line up to is stripped back to a quartet with Sertari centre stage, sporting a more glamourous alternative to the black T shirt and jeans, as the latest in a long-ish line of singers. One can’t argue with the latest recruits that include the inspired choice of Luke Machin on guitar – his work in Francis Dunnery’s band and in The Tangent plus with a couple of starring roles on Dark Horizons – who on several occasions proves his mettle.
A game of two halves sees the The Gathering Light and Delicate Flame Of Desire albums jostle for position as they provide much of the set including the opening flurry of the swirling The Serprent And The Sea, Tide To Fall and Your World along with a couple of blasts from the past in the Delicate Flame title track and Time Stand Still. The latter has always been a personal fave with vivid memories of watching Karnataka at the turn of the century (not a music club but meaning the early 2000’s) when it was a sterling opening number.
However, we’re not just remembering the ghosts of yesterday as there are a handful of new songs heralding this new dawn. Both sets get the honour of live debuts of new material which should make the next album whenever that may appear. Forgiven and Sacrifice may match the mighty set closer Forsaken (where Luke goes to town with the wondrous solo part mid song) in the ‘one word title’ songs that hint at lyrical and musical content that targets the emotional pull of parting and both shift from piano/vocal parts to full blooded contrasts. All Around The World might too sound familiar with it’s theme of climate change yet as Ian poins out in his intro, draws on the inspirational momentum of the younger generation, intent on making amends for the misguided actions of earlier generations.
Road To Cairo might be missing the string arrangement from the Secrets Of Angels album, but is balanced with a heavy rock presence and opens the second set with a passage that’s hard to top. Maybe even “One Day We’ll Tell Our Stories” from the song could provide an alternative title for the history of Karnataka. Highlight of the evening? Pretty much an odds on favourite with its relentless power opening set 2’s mix of new and old. That they feature only one number albeit a particular gem from such a highly rated album an indicator of the strength of the legacy.
As the band reappear for an encore of The Gathering Light to the strains of Troy Donockley’s evocative Celtic pipes, it’s a perfect choice to end the evening. Stepping from the shadows, moving on, making the most of our time – all notions to which we should maybe spare a though and perhaps take the hint and look into the light. With Karnataka as the soundtrack of course.
Categories: Live Reviews