Wednesday, April 26, 2023

O.R.K. @ O'Sullivan's Backstage by The Mill, Paris

Neo-prog supergroup O.R.k is back in Paris, four years after their last concert in the French capital. In the mean time of course, the world changed and the pandemic drastically reshuffled the cards for musicians and the audience and this short tour is the first time they have played together since 2019. They are touring behind their new album, last year's Screamnasium, which constitutes the bulk of the setlist. 

Unfortunately, just like four years ago, the turnout for this concert was extremely poor. I realize that this is a week day, that they were playing somewhat early and that this is not exactly stadium-friendly pop music... But what a shame to see music of that quality, played by musicians of that caliber, being performed in front of a few dozen people.

For the lucky few that were here however, the short set (just under an hour) was a delight. O.R.k.'s music isn't hermetic, abstract prog. It's emotional, it's melodic, and it's full of light and shade. It shifts from ambient to heavy, from groovy to ethereal, from romantic to aggressive...

While all of the players are fantastic musicians on their instrument, there are no demonstrations of gratuitous virtuosity. In fact, the playing is sometimes subdued, as if to highlight the melodies and allow the emotions to take over.

That said, when these guys cook, they cook. Carmelo Pipitone on guitar (and sometimes vocals) draws out long expressionist waves of sound that wash over the listener while Colin Edwin mans the low end and Pat Mastellotto lays the foundation with his thundering drums. Vocalist L.E.F. soars over it all with his powerful, elastic voice, sounding a bit like Prog-Rock Chris Cornell, if you can imagine such a thing.

A fantastic concert, if a little too short.

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