Published on April 25th, 2017 | by Mackinlay McBride0
Haken – O2 ABC Glasgow
Review by Mackinlay McBride
With this tour, Haken have a cause for celebration, and rightfully so. With the struggles of being in the music industry in this day and age, 10 years as a band is no mean feat. Now with four albums under their belt, all of which are considered to be cult classics, Haken have managed to carve a name out for themselves as one of the most consistently impressive bands in the progressive music scene. With absorbing songwriting, soaring vocals, guitar wizardry and exceptional musical prowess in general, Haken have nothing to prove, and tonight just goes to further that point. While it isn’t the biggest of crowds at the O2 ABC2, tonight isn’t about winning new fans over as much as it’s about treating the fans that have stuck by them and gotten them to where they are today.
Musically, the band were flawless, opening the night with cuts from their most recent release, Affinity, “affinity.exe” and “Initiate”, both setting the stage in a grand fashion. They continued as they meant to go on, with the campy 80’s bombast of “1985” going down a treat, complete with a keytar solo from Diego Tejeida and some retro light-up glasses complimenting Ross Jennings’ rather interesting stage presence. Rather than pick certain tracks from their theatrical debut album, Aquarius, Haken intriguingly went with a medley of the full album. While condensing a 73 minute album into a mere 25 minutes may seem risky, it was a move that paid off extremely well. It makes sense for these songs to be played altogether to, as Ross Jennings put it, “tell the story of Aquarius”.
Haken continued with the fan favourites “Atlas Stone” and “Cockroach King”, both from their 2012 album “The Mountain”. Both highlighted the band’s impressive musicianship, and at times quite zany songwriting, with Cockroach King being reminiscent of the band Gentle Giant gone mad. The band ended their set with “The Endless Knot”, with the intention of offering the fans a song that they could dance to, while seeming to pay tribute to support band, The Algorithm’s, progressive metal-via-dubstep crossover mastery. Throughout the set, every member got a chance to showcase their virtuosity, although the dual guitar work of Richard Henshall and Charlie Griffiths deserves a mention as it at times reached near telepathic levels; both played extremely well off each other.
In a night that seemed to be filled with nothing but highlights, it’s hard to pick out the best moment, however, Haken saved the best till last, returning to the stage for an encore of the 22 minute extravaganza that is “Visions”. Surprisingly, what struck me as just as impressive was the fact that much of the crowd was singing along to every word. It was a stunning end to the night, and truly a sight to behold. With a setlist spanning their entire career and a powerful performance from a band that is constantly on the rise, tonight was truly a night for the fans. While it must be said that Haken are still somewhat of a cult band, the quality of their music and the dedication of their fans seems to beg the question of just how long will they remain so? Only time will tell; here’s to the next 10 years.