Magma still young and intense after 40 years

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18. Feb. 2009, 22:10

Fri 13 Feb – Magma

French progressive rockband Magma exists for 40 years and celebrated this event with three concerts in Casino de Paris in Paris. I've been lucky to witness the second one.

Strangely enough the group had been split into two different groups for this event. Before the break we saw singer Klaus Blasquiz and bass player Jannick Top with a group consisting of a female singer (Natalia Ermilova), a female piano player (Aurore Crévelier), a guitar player (Jim Grandcamp) and two drummers (Jon Grandcamp and Marcus Linon), with the latter playing on various percussion instruments. They played two very long 'songs', with a slow but intense build-up. Both had a strangely heavy, even gothic atmosphere, even though the charismatic Blasquiz and the female singer seemed to have a lot of fun together. The tracks were hampered by the sloppy interplay between the two drummers and the superfluous drumming by Blasquiz, but the intensity of the tracks made them a nice listening, anyway.

After the break drummer Christian Vander and his wife, singer Stella Vander appeared with a totally different band, consisting of two keyboard players (Bruno Ruder and Benoît Alziary, the latter also playing the vibraphone), two extra singers (Hervé Aknin and Isabelle Feuillebois), a guitarist (James MacGaw)and an excellent bass player (Philippe Bussonet). This band sounded way more like the Magma we used to know. The sound was less heavy, even remarkably light, and the practically continuous set contained some all-time favorites, like Rindë and the very beautiful Hhaï. Vander's drumming and singing are still stellar, and the choirs by the three singers hauntingly beautiful. Especially the performance and singing by young Aknin gave the impression he had been in Magma since his birth. I've been on the tip of my chair all the time. After all these years the music had lost not an atom of its originality, intensity or fire. Simply overwhelming.

For the encore the two bands came together for a mass interpretation of De Futura. Imagine sixteen players on stage (an unknown trumpet player had been added), including two drummers, two bass players and two guitar players. This mass group was a bit too large for its rendering of this classic from Üdü Wüdü, making the sound rather too loud and too sloppy. But this performance had the real spirit of a joyful reunion, so who cared?

Then Christian Vander left his drumkit to sing some extremely beautiful piece in Kobaïan, backed by the singers of his group and his bass and keyboard players. Rarely I've seen someone singing with so much soul and devotion.

After no less than three and a half hours this magnificant concert was over.

Magma will be touring next months. If you can, try to catch a concert. You'll be mesmerized!
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