Live Review: Lowering The Tone Tour @ The Relentless Garage, London

Being that TesseracT – the band behind one of my favourite albums of the year so far in One – were hitting the road this month on their much anticipated Lowering the Tone tour with a brand new, somewhat controversial vocalist at the forefront, there wasn’t much chance of me missing this. Combine that with one of my favourite live bands of the year in Chimp Spanner, and Basick Records’ exciting new prog-metal progenies Uneven Structure, and you could put money on the first date of the tour – the London show, no less – being packed to the rafters; and it pretty much was. I was more than happy to stand near the back, spending my ill-saved ticket money on drinks, taking in the djenty atmosphere with our own sometimes columnist Ed Newman.

Thankfully my woeful tardiness (‘thanks’, real job) stretched to missing only one song of opener Uneven Structure’s set, so I managed to get a good look at them. Whilst my compatriot was unimpressed, it was more with the actual music – previously unexplored for him – than their execution, which I thought was good, particularly given this was the French band’s first tour on UK soil. Vocalist Matthieu Romarin was always strong, and throughout a set that I believe took everything from upcoming debut LP Februus was at all times an engaging presence. The rest of the band did an admirable job of creating the lush soundscapes for which they are known, and received a warm welcome from the crowd. What more could you ask for?

Well, Chimp Spanner, for one. As I mentioned before, Chimpy chap Paul Ortiz and friends are a massive pleasure to watch live, and the enjoyment was ramped up even more from when I saw them with Cyclamen and Aliases in April. The entire staging was scaled up, with a couple of Pookie backdrops adding some colour, and if the band (usually Ortiz’s one-man ‘bedroom’ project) looked at all nervous last time I saw them, they oozed confidence this time around, Paul’s main concern afterwards being “did we sound loud enough?” – which they most certainly did.

Being an instrumental band the music has to speak for itself, and the set was incredibly well chosen. “Bad Code” and “The Mirror” in particular went down well, and it was evident that the performance was enjoyed on both sides. Drummer Boris le Gal was a joy to watch as ever; spinning his sticks, getting up and down from his kit and pulling a myriad of faces.

Eventually we got to the ‘main event’ so to speak, and the sea of curious faces turned to see what scene darlings TesseracT would sound like without talismanic frontman Dan Tompkins – and more importantly, with new vocalist Elliot Coleman. The reaction on across the net has been divisive to say the least, but I didn’t get the feeling that the band felt they had anything to prove; it was business as normal, and business was good.

Whilst it’s safe to say there isn’t quite the same handle on the material – Elliot explained when asked that Dan had a different way of reaching certain notes – it was only his third show in charge of the microphone, and he performed admirably, making the parts his own. Despite a few shaky sections which I would put down to unfamiliarity rather than incompetence, the show went off without a hitch. TesseracT are absolute masters of their instruments – never showy of course, but the music doesn’t demand that – and the show is recording quality. Ed made a joke about the sixth member’s screen glowing at the back of the stage, but the band were strong throughout, and despite my disappointment at the lack of an encore (no “Eden“; sadface), it was an evening well spent.

The bands have got just under half of the tour left now, but I urge you to go and have a look and a listen if you were sitting on the fence – if nothing else to solidify your own opinion about djent’s biggest shake-up this year.

– CG

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