The Mars Volta

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author PP date 13/03/05 venue Brixton Academy, London, UK

Seeing The Mars Volta live isn't like seeing any other band on the planet. The show wasn't just a show, it was a theaterical act, an adventure, an exploration into the unknown. How many other bands can play 7 songs in 2 hours and 10 minutes without having a single break in the flow of music, which lasts one full hour less on the albums! How many other bands can improvise their own songs on the go, adding new dimensions that you could not have imagined, such as intermixing "Frances The Mute" with Drunkship of Lanterns? There's no need for support bands!

The Mars Volta

With the At The Drive-In guys Cedric and Omar on stage, one could feel a wave of legendarity flowing out of their sole presence, even if they were just standing around. Fair enough, Cedric's and Omar's performance tonight was far less vigorous as back in the At The Drive-In's times, but even so everyone close enough to the stage could feel the incredible talent in these two guys. That's not to discredit Jon Theodore on the drums, who proved tonight that he is a great candidate for one of the best drummers in the world. Besides for that, he managed to forget the silent part in "Cygnus..Vismund Cygnus" which provoked Cedric to show the setlist to him with a playfully angry grin on his face, and he went into the final part of "Drunkship of Lanterns" too early. Other unfortunate errors tonight included Omar's guitar/amp's breaking down for a 5-10 minute period. You could see the frustration on Omar's face when there was no sound coming out of his guitar during one of the many improvisations. To Omar, this is art. No wait, it's even more than that. It's gone beyond being art on the album to become something unbeliavably beautiful to witness live.

A small part of the crowd - those that didn't know the songs or Mars Volta as well as the others - was damn near destroying this trip to the world of fantasy for the rest of us. The people I am talking about were roughly 15-17 years of age, and apparently mistook The Mars Volta for a nu-metal gig. What was up with the moshing guys? You don't mosh to The Mars Volta. You move in the strange ways that Cedric demonstrates with his ever so flexible leg movement ? la At The Drive-In. Also you don't shout or talk loudly during the improvisations or movements in between the songs, even if they are over 10 minutes long! But I suppose, if the only songs they knew were "Inertiatic ESP", "Roulette Dares", "The Widow" and "Televators", they wouldn't have even noticed the change of songs. It was made brilliantly. It was impossible to notice where "The Widow" finished and where "Cassandra Gemini" started, or "Concertrina" finishing before "Roulette Dares" hit in. The only break in the continuous flow of experimental progressive rock was when Cedric said "Ladies and Gentlemen: Jon Theodore, the elephant" after "Cygnus...Vismund Cygnus" due to Jon's mess up during the song. Even when Omar's guitar lost its sound for over five minutes the rest of the band kept on improvising.

The beauty of The Mars Volta concerts are that each one of them is unique. It may well be the same setlist for each night of this European Tour, but the songs are different every night. The small improvisations inside of the songs as well as in between the songs is what makes the show unforgettable. And as with all recent releases with The Mars Volta, it took a few days before the concert grew on me. I had left the venue with a feeling of confusion due to the incredible depth of the show I had just witnessed. But today as I am writing this review, I realized that I saw something very sacred. Legends were here tonight.

10

Setlist:

  • 1. Drunkship of Lanterns
  • 2. Concertrina
  • 3. Roulette Dares (This Is The Haunt)
  • 4. Cygnus...Vismund Cygnus
  • 5. Take The Veil Cerpin Taxt
  • 6. The Widow
  • 7. Cassandra Gemini

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