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First Look: Agent Fresco Make London Debut

Live Review

Venue: Dingwalls, London

Icelandic proggers head up modern prog feast

Sumer and Delta Sleep with in with strong support sets too...

It’s gratifying to see a showcase for present-day progressive bands, already upgraded in size from the nearby Black Heart, attract such an eager crowd. London five-piece Sumer come on early, but already have a sizeable audience waiting for them. Arguably the heaviest band on the bill, they make ideal openers, clearing the cobwebs with a grungy blast that never totally slips into prog metal, retaining soaring, clean vocals. Deft touches, like the Eastern-tinged introduction to Pinch, Cut and the eight sinuous minutes of their album closer_ End Of Sense_, could particularly appeal to both Radiohead and Tool fans.

Brighton quartet Delta Sleep tone things down, their take on math rock incorporating a pop influence that creates a sound not unlike early 80s King Crimson playing with latter-day XTC. The heaviness is not totally eradicated, as Uncle Ivan closes with hardcore screams from guitarist Glen Hodgson and 16:40 AM throws crushing moments in among its many stop-starts. However, this is a band promoting an aquatic themed break-up album, Twin Galaxies, and the angsty Lake Sprinkle Sprankle and dextrous Spy Dolphin demonstrate how they're perfectly able to meld a melody that will stick in your mind for days to come, without sacrificing the twists and turns that satisfy a Prog reader.

Welcomed like homecoming heroes, you'd never guess that Icelandic four-piece Agent Fresco are making their London debut. The band seem genuinely touched by the response they get and we're with them throughout a set that defies genre conventions. Opener Anemoi begins with electric piano reminiscent of something from a Vanessa Carlton album. Danish born frontman Arnór Dan Arnarson's vocals are a lesson in restraint, up until the middle section of the song where his screams punctuate, before an epic coda lifted by now angelic tones.

The endearing frontman explains the stories behind the songs; his father's death and a random attack that left him hospitalised feature heavily. The overwhelming feeling of the music we hear tonight however is one of euphoria, with frequent touches that wouldn't sound out of place on a chart hit, always underpinned by complex percussive twists, agile bass runs, and bursts of guitars that nimbly drop in and don't outstay their welcome. A Long Time Listening kickstarts a crowd singalong, which should serve them well when they become festival headliners. There's a concern the band have thrown this away too early, but set closer Eyes Of A Cloud Catcher repeats the participation, wedding it to their catchiest melody yet. Eager to conserve time, the band forgo tradition and stay to finish with The Autumn Red, finally giving guitarist Þórarinn Guðnason the chance to run free. This band won't be playing venues the size of Dingwalls for long.

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