January 25, 2013 - De Pul, Uden (NL)

Since they played at the legendary Dutch Progfarm Festival in 2001, the British prog rock band Karnataka didn't perform on a Dutch stage. In the meantime, however, much had happened. They split up after the release of their third studio album, which was a pity because Delicate Flame Of Desire (2003) is an amazing album and I would have loved to see them perform at the time. Suddenly, out of the blue, the news arrived that Karnataka got together again with a different line-up, but still led by founding member Ian Jones. In this new line-up the band recorded the superb album The Gathering Light (2010, see review).

Plans were made to perform in the Netherlands, but those plans unfortunately failed; several musicians had left the band and again a complete line-up had to be formed. When a Dutch fan met them after a live performance in the UK, they discussed the possibility to do shows in the Netherlands as a part of their Forbidden Dreams tour. She managed to arrange two concerts in our country, which was also a good opportunity to promote their recently released live CD, Blu-ray and DVD New Light, recorded during the previous eponymous tour.

Hayley Griffiths
Being a follower of the band since they released their second album The Storm (2000), I couldn't afford to miss one of these live shows. The gig planned at De Pul in Uden was most appropriate because Uden is close to my hometown. On the venue's website a support act was announced, but it appeared that no such act was booked. This meant that Karnataka would play the entire set list of the Forbidden Dreams tour in two different sets plus a final encore.

Both sets started with a bombastic opening tune on tape before the musicians entered the stage. They started with Talk To Me from their live album Strange Behaviour (2004), followed by Time Stands Still from Delicate Flame Of Desire. This track was originally recorded by the band's first line-up, but these musicians didn't have any problems at all to play the older material. This also applied to the strong versions of Heart Of Stone and The Storm. However, it was clear that these songs and the title track from The Gathering Light weren't written for the voice of Hayley Griffiths, the band's current lead singer. Dressed in black Griffiths managed rather well to give her own vocal interpretations of the older material with a strong voice and an excellent stage presentation. She sensually moved around on stage like a professional entertainer challenging the audience and her fellow-musicians.

For eight years Hayley Griffiths was the lead vocalist with Riverdance and Michael Flatley's Lord Of The Dance. All she did looked very professional and she really enjoyed her role being the eye-catcher of the band. Griffiths proved to be an amazing singer during Poison Ivy,  the first newly written track, although several people in the audience couldn't understand what she was talking about
Ian Jones
in between the tracks because she talked too fast... If everything goes according to the plans, this song will be released late 2013 on their fifth studio album. The first set turned out to be real fine. The musicians worked hard to make a big success of their return on a Dutch stage. However, at the beginning of Heart Of Stone the Italian guitarist Enrico Pinna accidentally touched the strings. He will be forgiven because throughout the gig he proved to be an excellent musician who moved many spectators with his amazing guitar work.

Of course I have to mention the other musicians as well. The Turkish keyboardist Cagri Tozluoglu also proved to be a reliable musician. With only one keyboard he was capable of playing beautiful chords and a synth solo at the same time. He must have learned this during the years he played in a Dream Theater tribute band. Karnataka hired drummer Matt McDonough for the occasion, but he didn't show to be a hireling at all. He professionally did his parts together with bassist Ian Jones, who occasionally played the bass pedals as well.

The second set was more focussed on the new material and on songs from The Gathering Light. This time Griffiths had changed her black outfit for a red one. During the new pieces Forbidden Dreams and Feels Like Home she showed again that her classically trained voice fitted perfectly to the new songs! The new pieces proved that the forthcoming album is something to look out for. In my opinion the highlight of the second set was Forsaken, an amazing track of the latest studio album that builds up to an awesome climax thanks to the great drum patterns. I got goosebumps all over throughout this piece! Tide To Fall, the well-performed encore ended a strong concert. Hopefully it won't be long before they return to the Netherlands. According to Ian Jones they'll come back soon because the band missed our country just as much as we missed them! We'll meet again soon, probably to promote a new album!

Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)

Setlist Karnataka:

Set 1:
Talk To Me
Time Stands Still
Poison Ivy
Heart Of Stone
The Storm
The Gathering Light

Set 2:
Forbidden Dreams
Delicate Flame Of Desire
The Journey
Feels Like Home
Your World

Tide To Fall

Pictures Karnataka by Arthur Haggenburg

Click on the picture to enlarge.

Line up Karnataka:

(left to right)
Cagri Tozluoglu:
Enrico Pinna:
guitars, backing vocals
Hayley Griffiths:
lead vocals
Matt McDonough:
Ian Jones:
bass, bass pedals

All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013