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Date: 3/28/17
Venue: Club Red, Mesa, AZ
Report By: Jack Mangan


Subdued, but fully engaged - - that's the best way to describe the blended crowd of Prog Metal geeks and Black Metal enthusiasts, ages ranging from early twenties to late forties. Club Red in Mesa, AZ is a good-sounding little room for live music, especially well-suited for a band like Katatonia, whose live performances hew toward album perfection. Frontman Jonas Renske cuts an imposing figure, dressed in featureless black long sleeves and pants, his primary stance hunched behind his wireless microphone and black curtain of hair, but he brings a very positive, friendly approach. His between-song banter was infrequent, but was amiable and disarming, much like his vocal style. Renske's hair wasn't the only thing obscuring visuals; I'm not sure if it was the venue or Katatonia's stage show, but the lighting and smoke effects kept them wrapped in a shroud of haze and darkness. The highlights of the night were the opener, "LasT Song Before the Fade," "Old Heart Falls," "Soil's Song," "Leaders," and crowd-pleasers, "Criminals" and "Teargas."

Of the openers, I found Uncured to be extremely young - - in every sense - - but showcasing dazzling technical proficiency on the guitars, bass, and drums, along with their Djenty riffs and growls. Someone in the crowd said that Mike Portnoy's kid had been their original drummer (fact-checked - - seems to be true!), if that gives you any indication of their pedigree. Uncured's appeal seemed to connect more with the younger end of the attendees. And it has to be said: Uncured were not hams (sorry).
Caspian held the middle slot, and were very impressive; they earned many new fans on this night, myself included. They may have been to blame for the lingering smoke over Katatonia's set; their visual show was obviously crafted to shroud the band in dim lights and heavy fog. Perhaps to ensure that the audience focuses only on the music? Their heavy, atmospheric, shoegazey, Explosions in the Sky-meets-Between the Buried and Me, all instrumental set was marvelous to behold, if a bitch to photograph. (Another press photographer covering the show lamented that the lighting made clear shots nearly impossible.) This is a band I intend to investigate further.

Katatonia setlist:
Last Song Before the Fade
Dead Letters
Old Heart Falls
Ghost of the Sun
Soil's Song
In the White
Encore: My Twin


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