Haken - The Garage, London
Tonight sees three of InsideOut Music's finest young prog bands come together for what promises to be a very exciting tour. First up are Maschine who are so prog they only manage to fit two and a half songs into their thirty minute slot. Opening up with a newbie that is seeing its first light, the highlight remains 'Rubidium', the title track from last year's debut. A dazzling display of guitar virtuosity and jazzy playfulness, this is as fun as it is heavy – and it's pretty bloody heavy.
Norway's Leprous look and sound very smart, and kick their set off with a mesmerising set of vocal harmonies. However, after a promising start, their hour long set (and the rest) does begin to drag in the middle as I find my feet fidgeting and mind wandering for a good four or five tracks. The band do manage to wrestle my attention band for the closing pair of 'Passing' and 'Forced Entry' as they once again display a fine balance of thunderous riffs, pin-sharp melodies and raw energy.
Rounding out this choice trio are Haken. Effortlessly smooth, incredible tight and showing off jaw-dropping musicianship, this proggiest of prog bands can still write a damn good tune. Although they are promoting their new EP of old tracks spruced up, they rather fail to live up to the raft of songs from recent opus The Mountain. In the magnificent 'Pareidolia' and 'Cockroach King', it's easy to hear why they have become the musician's musicians, with the likes of Mike Portnoy raving about them. Melding just about every genre under the sun with consummate ease into coherent and highly enjoyable behemoths, the crowd are even singing every word unprompted. Long live the new kings of prog!