Heroes of Prog – The Tangent and Karmakanic – Live @ Celebr8.3, London – May 2014

The rise of the ‘KarmaTangentanic’ hybrid….(needs a better name)

All the best superheroes are hybrids….Peter Parker and a radioactive spider, The Fantastic Four and those comic rays…all enhanced by a powerful force.

In May 2014 a new force was first witnessed.  Strange sightings and tales from Europe reported the appearance of this new super entity. To the rest of the world it seemed like just another internet rumour…..
At the last of the Celebr8 concert series in London, a crowd finally witnessed what they had seen on the web….the merging of two greats, The Tangent and Karmakanic –a supergroup of  heroic proportions with the power to captivate an audience…(even in the midst of a technical glitch)

Celebr8.3 2014
Celebr8.3 2014

In truth, the Tangent has always been a hybrid, a powerful organisation led by the determined, brilliant, yet anarchic young mind that is Andy Tillison. So naturally a mixture with long time member Jonas Reingold and Co otherwise known as Karmakanic was an amalgamation that had potential to be huge…. and you know what? It bloody well was!

So successful was the mix, that writing this is proving to be hard. To write about the Tangent performance may not do the fullest of justice to the Swedish counterparts who seamlessly performed the greatest songs from the last ten years from the Tangent catalogue alongside Mr Tillison, who of course was armed with one of his greatest of weapons, the guitar wizard, Luke Machin

Late afternoon, Karmakanic completed a superb set, massively bolstered by a brilliant thirty minute epic which sounded fully formed and ready to record. It was an exciting early indication of what was to come at the end of the night as Andy and Luke performed the new material alongside the classic ‘1969‘ and ‘Where the Earth Meets the Sky‘.

Yet as the evening wore on and Anathema finished their excellent set, The Tangent had one more trick up it’s sleeve, one that would make this one of their very special appearances.. Theo Travis….(more from him in a moment.)

Armed with a Keytar.. (Picture - Martin Reijman)
Armed with a Keytar..
(Picture – Martin Reijman)

Bursting with energy and intensity The Tangent arrived on the stage and instantly ripped through the concert ready ‘Evening TV’ from last year’s ‘Le Sacre Du Travail’. Paced up a notch, this lively belter of a track was all the more enhanced by the inclusion of Tillison’s Keytar, which freed his performance up, allowing his enduring style to shine brightly. To the casual member of the audience unfamiliar with The Tangent, the immediate impression must have been that this was a band that met regularly and toured often, such was the tightness and skill between the group. Clearly the mini-tour preceeding the UK date had honed their performance all the more, and despite a tight touring schedule and long travel, they looked fresh and ready to bite. (Just typical of a superhero, always ready anytime, anywhere.)

Then as the opener was complete, something happened and it looked like disaster for our heroes, the dreaded enemy of the modern world struck….Technology!!
Clearing the stage, the audience were then treated to something almost unique in concert terms (Almost)… A Windows reboot. A problem…not untypical of a busy festival, a technical breakdown. Hell, it happens to McCartney.. it can happen to anyone.
However, such was the power still felt by the crowd from what they had just witnessed, that the break in the show had no detrimental effect on their impression of this new super-hybrid….

…and then they returned. Performing ‘Perdu Dans Paris’ from ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ the ace up their sleeve finally became obvious, through the magnificent silky tones of Theo Travis. Straight away all memories of the delay were erased and the band delivered, and then some!
Travis made the whole thing look easy. Surrounded by his array of wind instruments, the crowd were treated to a performance that exemplified all that is good about the Tangent. This was indeed a rare moment, a chance for fans to see the songs as they should be and without doubt the delivery went way beyond the excellence heard on the album. To add to this, Luke Machin was every bit as captivating and his youth belied the true mature ability and professional attitude he displayed. Many times he shifted from scorching hot shred to slow jazz with consummate ease. The audience ate this up greedily and their responses to both these musicians said it all.

An old favourite in the form of ‘GPS Culture’ from ‘A Place In the Queue’ was next and the introduction to the song gave the crowd an insight into the somewhat abstract thinking of Tillison and his creative uses of jingles and TV themes. The tale gained approval and there was a noticeable ripple of amusement at the conclusion. The song itself was delivered with its well established ease and precision. It’s vital then at this point to remind you that this is TheTangentanik (still needs work) and the hybrid version of the band, (thanks to the amazing Jonas,
Morgan Ågren and Göran Edman with Lalle Larsson) ensured the songs were a huge success–a feat in itself as they are nothing short of challenging in their length and complexity.

Theo Travis and Jonas Reingold. (Picture - Martin Reijman)
Theo Travis and Jonas Reingold.
(Picture – Martin Reijman)

The highlight of the show followed with the mammoth ‘In Darkest Dreams’, not old and extinct as the large woolly elephant-like, Lord of the Ringy creature would suggest, but in its scope and power and size. This was the time to see the material that propelled The Tangent to the forefront of the modern Prog genre and it was not hard to see why. The track has it all, a catchy refrain, (the audience soaked this up) a stadium sized middle section which allowed all the musicians to shine and the now compulsory inclusion of the ambient, tangerine like ‘After Ricochet’ where Tillison, head down and in the zone begins his mesmerising homage solo performance. The suspense throughout this section from the audience was clear and as the cycle came to an end it was obvious in their enthusiastic reaction.

The show could have ended there, but there was time for one more return, and a tasty surprise of things to come with the performance of  ‘A Spark in the Aether’ (title and details to be confirmed officially at a later date.) Coming from a fortunate beta test position the track was already a favourite of mine, and by the end it was clear the crowd felt the same. This was The Tangent in full throttle as the song raced along at 100, 000 miles per hour. The pace and fire that this new material has is mind blowing and represents another seismic approach in the development of the follow up to Le Sacre.

On the back of an unrelenting applause and round of cheers, the hybrid finished in the form of Karmakanic (Karmakangent?) for one last hurrah with ‘Turn it Up’, a perfect pop-laden conclusion that left the audience with the biggest disappointment of the night…namely no more songs.

A force to be reckoned with... (Picture - Martin Reijman)
A force to be reckoned with…
(Picture – Martin Reijman)

Strength comes through collaboration and the combination of these two heavy weights was a perfect mix, especially given their long associations. Add in the Travis and Machin formula and you have the illustrious chemical X, a rare ingredient that provides amazing Prog rock! There is hope for another joint tour for the future, and on the basis of this tour, it should happen, without doubt. The fact that both the Tangent and Karmakanic have new releases to come in 2015 should give you food for thought. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of  TheTangakarmakic….(I give up)



Many thanks to Martin Reijman for his excellent pictures.

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