donderdag 13 november 2014

John Garcia with STEAK and Komatsu – Live at W2



John Garcia with STEAK and Komatsu – Live at W2

On a reasonably cold Tuesday evening in November in an almost sold out W2 venue in Den Bosch, Netherlands desert rock legend John Garcia takes the stage. The man who rose from the sandy wastelands of the Palm Desert to stand at the very beginning of the music genre that unfortunately received the moniker stonerrock. Together with his hombres he formed Kyuss and with their four albums at the beginning of the nineties they laid the foundation for all those bands that came after and who also revere the low end tunes. But still, the band would never have received this godlike status if it hadn’t been for the true and powerful voice of Mr. John Garcia.



After the end of Kyuss, the man released amazing albums with Unida, Slo Burn, Hermano and Vista Chino before finally putting out a solo record. That self-titled release from this year is the reason he embarked on this European tour. But before we are able to enjoy the mighty voice tonight there are two bands that deliver a pre-show warm up. And those aren’t ones to miss or mess around with. Hailing from the United Kingdom it is STEAK that opens up tonight and show us immediately that it is all about the fuzz, the groove and the majestic riffs this evening. Mad wildebeest drummer Sammy Forway pounds his skins like crazy, undeterred by the problems with his kit and the sound. They truck on relentlessly and the songs from the Slab City album released earlier this year, which features Garcia on one track, fills the venue with dry sandy tones and a yearning audience. Even though the band doesn’t seem to be in the best state of mind on this sixth night of the tour. (Probably due to the hangover manufactured the night before.) They do sound like a marauding gang of motorcycle nuts on route to a generator party in the wastelands. And they make sure the audience is already riled up when the Dutch sludge force Komatsu walks on stage...




Thanks to that one flirt on Speedfest last year. A solid friendship between Garcia and Komatsu was formed. So when Waxy dropped out for the tour the man immediately asked the guys if they would want to join him. Jumping at the opportunity, they lost one of their own. Cause its four guys that walk on stage tonight. Drummer Miriam Bekkers has unfortunately left the group because family life, running a bar and touring for a month aren’t easily combined. But the guys seem to be in their element on this home game. Tight, raw and vicious they propel their songs into the venue and new guy drummer Jelle Tommeleyn from the Belgian band Miava, shows through his technical prowess, he has mastered the Komatsu material in an incredible short period of time. The way he builds layer upon layer on songs like Komatsu and the new WTF! is admirable. New instrumental intro Rose Of Jericho and pounding track Lockdown seem to be great new weapons in their arsenal. And together with the Against All Odds track might be found on the new album to be recorded after the tour. The only thing that always grinds and pains with Komatsu are the vocals. Tonight is no different. But thanks to the massive riffs and the ever growing ingenious melody lines it seems that those chafing vocals are part of the Komatsu creed. Namely: to demolish every venue whole. The reception is warm for the guys. Cause even though the biggest part of the venue is here for the main act, there is a big enough Komatsu contingent to show support before they truck on through Europe with uncle John…


As always with our favorite uncle, it is the musicians that arrive first and start playing. Guitarist Ehren Groban (War Drum), bassist Mike Pygmie (You Know Who) and drummer Greg Saenz (You Know Who, The Dwarves) play the intro before we get loud to hail the arrival of Garcia. It is immediately apparent that the singer has become more and more comfortable with the fact that he is the center of attention and focal point. With all his earlier projects the man hardly spoke to the audience. But this time around he has to, it is his name on the bill and the tour through Europe is to promote his solo effort. Ofcourse he lets us know that he is not that proficient in small talk and that he is just here to sing, but he wants to reassure the audience that they have not come in vain: songs from his entire catalogue will be played. As if he wants to apologize for the fact that he will also play new songs. Which is ridiculous ofcourse since the new album is filled with killer songs who are live even better; as we will soon find out…



Amazing versions of One Inch Man, Tangy Zizzle, Gloria Lewis and an unparalleled version of El Rodeo follow. Which shows a singer that is absolutely determined to deliver those songs as good as he possibly can and which tells us he finds them just as important if not more important than his new work. Even more so when the Slo Burn song July howls itself through the venue. From the new record we hear an impressive Blvd, Flowers, 500 Miles and My Mind, all tight and enthralling. But unfortunately the Garcia performance is also plagued by technical difficulties. At three quarters of the show, the during solo track Argleben and Slo Burn song Pilot The Dune the guitar troubles destroy the groove and state of mind of the audience. The running around of roadies and the guitar player cannot camouflage the fact that the band aren’t comfortable enough with each other yet to start improvising. So soon the music stops and after a third time the guitar sound fails Garcia walks off stage. After many checks and hiccups a new cable from guitar to pedals seems to be the solution. Wouldn’t you decide to switch cables sooner? 



The band wants revenge. And that hangs in the air when Garcia comes back and performs All These Walls. An absolute stunning live song that has the crowd on their toes and ready to pounce. And when Supa Scoopa And The Mighty Scoop and Green Machine finally come around we all change into a stampeding herd of buffalo or crazy dancing coyotes. But even though the end is truly majestic, it cannot hide the fact that the show never became as legendary as the prestige of Garcia himself. The powerful voice of the phenomenal singer has only grown with the passing of time. But the technical difficulties and complete stops of the show provide us with an unsatisfied feeling. The almost effect. Cause afterward you realize all too well what could have happened if things has just been a little different…


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