Live Review – Rolo Tomassi

By Kane Power (@ElHeavio)

1/6/2015, Power Lunches, London

Downstairs at Power Lunches in Dalston, someone has distilled the aroma of a sweaty band practice and infused it into five of those fancy air fresheners that you plug into the wall. All the plugs are turned on and the guy in front of you in the mosh-pit has wrapped his wet shirt around your face and has you in a headlock, forcibly violating your nostrils with his armpit.

Set the scene?

Despite the smell downstairs, Power Lunches is actually quite a cool little venue to celebrate the release of ‘Grievances’, the new effort from Sheffield act Rolo Tomassi. Tonight is the first of four sold-out London shows over the next four days and first on the bill is Holy Roar label mates, Svalbard.

There is a desperate quality to Svalbard’s hardcore/post-rock sound which I find endearing and evidently so does everyone else. After a few songs the room has warmed to them quite a bit. When I say warmed to them I also mean it literally, but the heat added the much-needed sweat to Svalbard’s raw, abrasive performance and by their last few songs they had a room full of new fans.

An intro track announces Rolo Tomassi to the stage and on cue they launch into a full on aural assault, stunning the senses into alertness. The primal howl of the vocals and din of instrumental wizardry is instantly captivating, and when the sound becomes more sparse and atmospheric it is with enough authority to hold that attention. The range of styles and genres they touch, if only for a moment, leads the listener through a labyrinth of tumult, wishing they would linger just a moment more, before becoming absorbed in the next movement.

Rolo Tomassi are artists and they present art on stage. Their compositions are brave, they always have been somewhat, but their performance tonight shows a band that has clearly progressed and become more comfortable taking risks, and it has really paid off. Their disregard for genre rules allow them to transcend the tired routine that so many heavy bands fall into. It has made their music ultimately compelling and actually interesting to listen to.

While introducing their new album, lead vocalist Eva Spence said “I’m proud of it, I don’t know if I should say that, but I’m proud”. It’s that sentiment which their performance tonight embodied more than any other. They’ve become unafraid to really express themselves, become free to display the vast depth of emotion and abundance of creativity they possess. New track ‘Opalescent’ was the standout moment for me, a totally original sound that hints of even more greatness to come.

I left this gig tonight refreshed and excited about seeing Rolo Tomassi again at Arc Tangent in August. I suggest you immediately buy a ticket to their next show and check out their brand new album ‘Grievances’.

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