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Concert Reviews


Radio Massacre International at the Gatherings

After having played at the ProgWest festival a week earlier, Radio Massacre International played at Gatherings 43 on Saturday, November 43, 2002.   Here is the review I posted to the spacemusic mailing list the following day.
Link to Gatherings 43 It was a cold, rainy, blustery evening, as if it had been ordered up special to make a Londoner feel right at home by an American who didn't know any better.   But to compensate, the Gatherings audience made Radio Massacre International feel warmly welcomed from the start.   RMI are a band that you just don't ever expect to see on this side of the pond.   Heck, I never expected to see spacemusic acts over here from abroad... until Chuck van Zyl started spoiling his audience by enticing act after act to come over; Wave World, Free System Projekt,   Richard Pinhas, Ian Boddy... and the list continues.   His latest coup - RMI.

Mellowtronless and condensed down to only two synth modules, a couple of guitars, and some toys to clang together, one wonders how RMI can achieve their trademark expansive sound.   Somehow, between clever programming and sufficient polyphony, RMI obtained the desired effect.   Yes, the flute isn't as hauntingly beautiful as a real Mellotron flute, but that's picking at nits.   Steve and Duncan stood at small keyboard controllers, facing each other on the right while Gary stood alone on the left, guitar in hand, foot on a volume pedal and a Jamman on a small stand.   Immediately, Jeff Towne's lighting and the first hint of music set the mood for an enjoyable evening.
As usual, I was far too lost in the music to keep track of the quantity of pieces played.   Didn't much matter, that.   The quality was there and all but the last piece were improvised.   Few acts have the confidence to perform that way, and fewer still are able to pull it off well.   RMI did an outstanding job.   As the Brits would say, "Brilliant!"   Despite a few technicalities like a Jamman resetting itself and a theremin-like device totally failing, RMI carried on.   Closing one's eyes solves the problem from the audience point of view because the music didn't suffer.   So what if an ambient bit is missing a layer or if the Berlin School sequence goes on a little longer before a solo gets played.   I was in front of the stage, ensconced in my portable chair with feet propped up, totally relaxed and happy with the aural environment being presented by three men who knew what they're doing.
This was a classic evening of RMI.   Last year at the Hampshire Jam, they pulled out a few more stops and even went into a spacerock jam that I didn't expect.   But they were not thousands of miles from most of their gear, playing lean and mean with what can conveniently fit into their luggage.   But they still pulled out a number of stops and rocked the house with what they had at hand.   And afterwards, they graciously chatted with all who wanted to do the meet and greet.   Cheerful, down to earth people are such a pleasure.   I enjoyed renewing our friendships and hearing what a wonderful time they've been having in the States.

So closed the 2002 chapter of The Gatherings Concert Series.   I can only shake with anticipation for what Chuck will have in store for 2003.

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