Haken’s ‘Affinitour v2.0’ in support of their fourth album ‘Affinity’ has reached Canada and the United States. I caught the band live at Toronto’s Mod Club. Words and photos by Tim Darbyshire.
‘Affinity’ is already a strong contender to be Album of the Year for many people, and as the band took to the stage the enthusiastic crowd greeted them like conquering heroes. Kicking off with ‘Initiate’ from the new album and ‘Falling Back To Earth’ (from 2013’s ‘The Mountain’), it was evident that this is a band playing at the top of their game. There’s a visible confidence emanating from all the band, almost a swagger – they know they’re good and they enjoy showing it.
Technically superb, mixing out and out aural assault with refined quieter passages – where the crowd were almost singing as loudly as vocalist Ross Jennings – Haken deliver dizzying rhythms with rousing melodies. ‘1985’ is the standout track from ‘Affinity’ – keyboardist Diego Tejeide wants a piece of the action and takes centre stage with his keytar. Both guitar players – Rich Henshall and Charlie Griffiths – are playing 8 string guitars and Conner Green’s bass has 6 strings…..this is prog after all.
Most of the set is culled from the last 2 albums (‘Deathless’ and encore ‘Celestial Elixir’ being the exceptions). ‘The Architect’ – the longest track on ‘Affinity’ – takes us on a journey through many styles and allows both guitarists more space to shine with solos. The highlight of the evening for me, and clearly a crowd favourite, is a storming version of ‘Cockroach King’ , complete with its quirky time signatures and Gentle Giant style vocal harmonies, which has the whole club shaking to the rafters.
‘The Endless Knot’ brings the main set to a frenzied finale and the band sign off with encore ‘Celestial Elixir’ from 2010’s debut album ‘Aquarius’.
Haken of course cross the genres. It is heavy, it is loud, but they combine this with subtlety and emotion, weaving an intoxicating medley of styles. It’s all uplifting stuff, the affinity between the band members themselves and the band and crowd. This is a band on a roll, that seemingly can do no wrong at present – catch them if you can.
My review of Haken’s ‘Affinity’ album is here.
Falling Back To Earth
The Endless Knot
Ross Jennings – vocals
Rich Henshall – guitars
Ray Hearne – drums
Charlie Griffiths – guitars
Diego Tejeida – keyboards
Conner Green – bass
Tour Dates – Affinitour v2.0 2016