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Topic ClosedKino - London, 22nd April 2005

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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Kino - London, 22nd April 2005
    Posted: April 27 2005 at 11:09

What a rare treat it is to walk the streets of central London in April and be bathed in warm sunshine. No-one here can quite believe it and as a result, the pubs and bars are full to capacity with office workers, tourists and gig goers who spill out on to the streets to enjoy the rare trinity of sun, beer and conversation.

My evening begins at the De Hemms pub just off Shaftsbury avenue to meet up with the Marillion faithful who have shown up in significant numbers to see the band Kino who are due on stage this very evening for their debut London show.

Kino much like Transatlantic, are a prog ‘supergroup’ comprising of Pete Trewavas (Marillion), John Beck (It Bites), John Mitchell (The Urbane/Arena) and Chris Maitland (ex-Porcupine Tree) and have released their debut album Picture very recently to rapturous acclaim in the UK. I however, have only heard a few tracks so tonight will be new territory for me. I’m informed that Chris Maitland will not be playing tonight but as an added bonus to this It Bites fan, drummer extraordinaire Bob Dalton will be filling in for this part of the tour (no complaints there!).

The Mean Fiddler, once a landmark of North West London, has now moved to Central London and occupies the underground space that used to be the LA2. Upon arrival, I notice that apart from the name, nothing much has changed, the corridors are still maze-like and the bar prices are beyond reason. I wander down to the gig, passing Peter Trewavas on the stair who looks content with the turnout (which appears to be very generous indeed although I do notice a significant proportion of the crowd sport a myriad of Marillion related clothing).

The lights dim and John Mitchell leads the band on to rapturous applause (impressive to say the least as they haven’t played a note yet) smiling and looking as eager to play. They open up with what I’m told is a track called ‘Letting Go’ and the first impression is that this band is at the pop end of Prog spectrum and motors along throwing it’s hooks into the crowd and reeling them in with ease. What I am uneasy about is the lighting rig that sits above the audience which vibrates viciously in time (apparently) with the band playing in the Astoria upstairs. I even ask the sound engineer about it but he smiles cheerily and replies ‘Nah, that’s nothing, you should have seen it last week’. Well, er…okay then.

Most of the ‘Picture’ album is performed with John Mitchell proving himself to be a very able singer/front man (even with a heavy dose of the flu) and a more that capable guitarist which he demonstrates to the full during the first of the night’s three covers, It Bites ‘Plastic Dreamer’. Mr Beck acquits himself admirably on lead vocals for ‘Swimming with Women’ but for me the night’s highlight was the superb ‘Losers Day Parade’ which is as fine a prog epic as I’ve heard in the last five years. At thirteen minutes it’s not too overblown but the themes contained within really show you what this band is capable of. The end section with its ‘Dead nobodies in company cars’ coda is nothing short of apocalyptic. The place explodes as soon as the last chord dies away and I realise that this band have well an truly won this audience over which is no mean feat when you consider the vast majority of the crowd is made up Marillion fans and they don’t give their praise easily.

The band wander off stage to return a few minutes later an perform a delicate but strangely toothless version of Marillion’s ‘Afraid Of Sunlight’ which although well played, lacked the power of Steve Hogarth’s melancholic cry. The final song is another It Bites cover ‘Kiss Like Judas’ which whips the crowd up to a suitable climax and then suddenly lights up and it’s all over.

Overall I would have liked to heard more of the material before I saw Kino live but as I leave the show in search of a pub and a gig post mortem with the other party faithful. I’m confident that there is better to follow as Kino look and sound like a band with an identity all it’s own but only time will tell if this potential thoroughbred can compete with the other front runners.

It’s a race worth running.

I must remind the right honourable gentleman that a monologue is not a decision.
- Clement Atlee, on Winston Churchill
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