Prog - - Limelight - JORDAN BLUM

Hav­ing re­leased four crit­i­cally ac­claimed stu­dio al­bums since form­ing in 2007, lon­don’s Haken have spent this year cel­e­brat­ing their 10th an­niver­sary in sev­eral ways, such as a se­ries of ret­ro­spec­tive North Amer­i­can con­certs. their per­for­mance here demon­strates why they have had such a me­te­oric rise since start­ing out. while not per­fect, it’s a thrilling, en­dear­ing and var­ied show in a very leisurely set­ting – one with so­fas and a size­able bar.

Open­ing act Sithu Aye serve up a kind of tech­ni­cal in­stru­men­tal wiz­ardry that overtly em­u­lates acts like An end­less Spo­radic, Scale the Sum­mit, and Nova Col­lec­tive. un­for­tu­nately, they lack much of the di­ver­sity and dy­nam­ics that make those bet­ter-known en­sem­bles so fas­ci­nat­ing, in­stead fo­cus­ing al­most en­tirely on an ag­gres­sive style of show­man­ship that rarely, if ever, of­fers any­thing dis­tin­guish­ing. they even play a song called An­ime As Lead­ers, in­sin­u­at­ing that even they re­gard them­selves as copy­cats.

It’s im­pres­sive on a mu­si­cian­ship level, but there’s lit­tle added depth to their sound, and even their ban­ter be­tween tracks, though charm­ingly hum­ble and hu­mor­ous at first, be­comes repet­i­tive be­fore too long.

Haken take to the stage and launch into sev­eral high­lights from their lat­est al­bum. Of par­tic­u­lar note is the early one-two synth punch of 1985 and Red Gi­ant, both of which sound very close to their stu­dio coun­ter­parts (al­beit be­ing a bit mud­dled, with too much low-end) as vo­cal­ist Ross Jen­nings en­cour­ages au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion while wear­ing glow­ing blue sun­glasses.

Play­ing in front of an Affin­ity back­drop while adorned in blue, green, or­ange and white lights, they also repli­cate the rhyth­mi­cally manic the end­less Knot and throw­back ag­i­ta­tor the Ar­chi­tect (fea­tur­ing

Next to None’s thomas Cuce in lieu of lep­rous’ ei­nar Sol­berg on growls) with great ac­cu­racy and joy.

the group also delve deeply into their back cat­a­logue to hon­our their en­tire ca­reer. Fan-favourite Cock­roach King earns deaf­en­ing ap­plause (though it was a bit lack­ing in terms of its trade­mark vo­cal coun­ter­points), while Pre­mo­ni­tion from Vi­sions serves as a thrilling way to kick off their whole set.

Ar­guably the high­light of the en­tire night is the Aquar­ius med­ley, dur­ing which they of­fer a sur­vey of the en­tire record with a seam­less fo­cus. All in all, it is a won­der­ful, if slightly flawed, way for the band and fans to com­mem­o­rate how far Haken have come over the last decade.

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