Karnataka blow The Globe Away Progressive, Mystical, Magical…
A wet evening in Cardiff, The Globe made brighter by a spectacular show for Karnataka’s special blending Progressive Rock. The crowd could have been larger but the atmosphere was electric with anticipation. Among the regulars at The Globe were fans who travel miles to see the band they find simply beguiling. For the band it was the second night of the Secret of Angels European Tour as it was for some of the audience determined to follow them around the country. The band spans twenty years and have experienced all the ups and downs of a career in the music industry. Karnataka as well as a band name is also an Indian State, full of lavish temples, reflecting the style of music home to medieval Vijayanagara empire capital. The name might be steeped in ancient and modern history, but Karnataka are firmly footed in the modern world. A sophisticated stage set-up, included bass pedals plus the distinctive lack of speaker stacks and monitors, giving the stage an uncluttered free-form. This space gave Hayley Griffiths formerly Riverdance/Lord of The Dance plenty of room even on a smallish stage to move, dance and visit the other band members as they took over from her vocal duties. During the evening she stood behind the drummer and conducted the immaculately timed beats of FrenchmanJimmy Pallagrosi, who entertained with stellar cymbal work and catching your breath with every beat when he was sitting down or standing and dominating the drums. Hayley flirted with Ian Jones on bass and cajoled some dazzling fretwork from Italian guitarist Enrico Pinna. Her presence ensured that Turkish keyboard player Cagri Tozuoglu added that special ingredient to the sound. Hayley did not hide at the back for long before taking centre stage once again luring us under the Karnataka spell with her lyrical vocals that soared and then took us to the darker underbelly of the lyrics.
They kicked-off with four tracks from their award-winning latest album Secret Of Angels. The beginning of tonight’s Karnataka journey being Road To Cairo. The vocals from Hayley were magnificent, as she did throughout, creating a great vibe and the depicting a story with all the drama provided by the rhythm section and keys. Poison Ivy had all the intricacies of ivy growing up the wall but this was creeping into the darkest crevice as Hayley sang “tormenting shadows soothe the needs revealing secrets whisper the dreams your Poison Ivy!” Fairytale Lies of the last of this set from the album was full of intricate twists and turns with the keyboard opening and then the voice ethereal from a world that Prog rock tonight was successfully taking us tonight and then to close the set, a dip into The Gathering with Forsaken and closing with a new number Twist of Fates. This was a powerful close showing Karnataka continue to develop their sound and approach to rock. A short break and costume change and we were back for a very welcome second helping of progressive Karnataka. The second set included another track from The Gathering, Serpent and the Sea with its secrets untold a rockier number that has an energy that rebuilds the energy after the short break. The other album dipped into was their second The Storm with Dreamer, rocky and full of driving energy and like all the music tonight the tempo ebbed and flowed changing directions this was a dream full of colour and mystery. Mixed in were two more tracks from Secret of Angels, Borderline and then closing the set with the title track. What a performance what a number full of Celtic magic and then opening a mind engaging ethereal loop of uilleann pipes and whistles recreating the album sound courtesy of Nightwish’s Troy Donockley. Jimmy standing pounded out a primeval beat that coursed through the veins of this number. Twenty minutes of charmed progressive rock for Karnataka and Welshman Ian Jones deep rumbling bass lines ensured the structure was never lost when each instrument took control. It was Hayley’s vocals that shone whether singing the lyrics or using her sweet vocal range as the fifth musical instrument. There is no doubt that Secret of Angels was a deserved winner of Classic Rock Society Awards 2016 for ‘Best Album’ and ‘Best Song’. Then the tracks sadly drew to an end, the band left the stage. We were back from the land Karnataka had taken us. We wanted more and they obliged with the only track from the album not played tonight.
A collective of superb musicians who weave the tones they never interrupt or overpower each other. The use of slide, plectrum, finger-picking and the manipulation of the fretboard keeps the guitar interesting. The rhythm section does more that keep the beat they drive and shape the feel of the music adding deep drama and the gentlest of a deeper tone and the tinkling of cymbals. The keys sear through the tracks and the guitar adds tonal texture and layers of majestic chords, then the vocals stunning, controlled and emotional. Karnataka played a live set full of musical delights tonight in Cardiff.