Thursday, 12th April 2012
The Fleece, Bristol, The UK
Article By Alison Henderson
and photos by Paul Johnson
First, the good news! Also Eden will be back in Holland early next month to play
Starsound at Utrecht on Saturday May 5 and
De Kade in Zaandam on Sunday May 6.
And now the even better news!
They are totally on top of their musical game judging by this extraordinary and intense final gig before they make their way across to Dutch shores.
For a band that has come through so many trials and tribulations in recent times, seeing them perform so purposefully in front of,
it has to be said, a criminally small turn-out of people on their home turf was nothing short of miraculous.
On top of that, as singer/guitarist Rich Harding explained,
they could have been billed as the unhealthiest band around as most of the five of them were suffering varying degrees of man flu and colds.
Augmented by the best sound heard in any small venue for many a year, the band takes on a whole new dimension live as this gig proved.
While their canon of recorded work showcases the intricacies of their musicality, put them in front of a few speakers and monitors,
and suddenly, the subtleties disappear and instead, they pack an unexpectedly heavy prog punch.
By dint of the set-up of the Fleece’s stage, the whole formation of the band took the shape of a rugged back three comprising drummer Lee Nicholas,
bass player Steve Dunn and keyboards player Ian Hodson, with the frontline duties taken care of by guitarist Simon Rogers and Harding.
While that engine room behind worked tirelessly throughout, the dynamic between Rogers and Harding has now become one of the band’s most striking qualities.
The hour long set consisted of a very strong selection of both the old and the new, kicking off with the atmospheric,
slow to build Seeing Red from their Differences as Light EP which suddenly explodes into a wall of lush sound and then moves through shifting melodic passages that
showcase Harding’s penetrating voice and Rogers’ fluid guitar.
The greater part of the set was given over to the current album, the highly acclaimed Think of the Children, still one of the best sellers in F2’s catalogue,
which centres on Harding’s observations on the world in which we are all watched. Starting with Think of the Children 1,
Harding then introduced the provocative Oversight, a searing honest narrative into how the all-seeing “Big Brother” camera eye probes into our daily lives.
Cijfers has an unashamedly Rush feel to it before it morphed into the highly charged The Greater Game.
During this, Harding shows his unique gift for interpreting a lyric with the slightest inflection of voice or movement of hand.
But the stand-out track of the night is Outside In from It’s Kind of You to Ask with its plaintive keyboard opening lifting up Harding’s voice
as the song reaches out to reflect on issues such as keeping face and keeping up appearances while our inner selves tell us otherwise.
It builds into the most gorgeous crescendo with Harding hitting the most seemingly unobtainable high notes.
This is a recent addition to their live set and one they really should continue to perform as it showcases all the best elements of their sound in all its emotional fortitude.
Back to Differences of Light for Reality Cheque, a contemporary narrative on how the credit crunch and reality television have become the two main drivers which define our lives.
Some solid staccato guitar and fancy fretwork from Rogers, and an excellent vocal dual between him and Harding set this complex piece apart from the rest.
Perhaps the most poignant moment of the night comes when Harding introduces 1949, another stand-out song from Think of the Children and a deeply personal one for him.
It reflects on his journey after he miraculously survived a motorcycle crash nearly two years ago in which his left leg was shattered.
As he reminded the audience, the past two visits of the band to the Fleece saw his leg encased in metal.
This night the miracle continued as he performed the whole set without any support.
However, his half spoken delivery of the song gave only a hint of the personal journey he endured during the early days of his hospitalisation.
Crossing his arms over his chest with head bowed also gave him a tremendous air of vulnerability.
But the third piece of good news of the evening was that work is now underway on the follow-up to Think of the Children as Harding announced [REDACTED]
will be out next year and introduced Distortion Field as a taster of what is to come.
And what a treat it was! Here was a solid slab of rock prog with full-on guitar, stunning keyboard sonics from Hodson, some muscular drumming from Nicholas and almost a funk vibe from Dunn.
Finally, as a reminder of how Also Eden are also master commentators at the often horrors and absurdities of the world,
they ended with A Widow’s Eyes with Harding thanking his predecessor Huw Lloyd-Jones for this song that opines the casualties of war and the
impact their deaths have on their nearest and dearest.
By any standards, this was a dramatic evening of music from a band, which continues to deliver compelling prog of the highest class and integrity.
Also Eden is a definite must-see during the all too brief visit to the Netherlands next month.
Also Eden Official Website
Also Eden Myspace