Live review: Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group (Bosnian Rainbows), Mono/Poly at Stereo, 30/9/12

Omar Rodriquez Lopez talks; he can speak after all, if nothing else this can be what those in Stereo can take away from tonight.

Of course, so what, but this is the first such occurrence in the four or five times (at three hours each) I’ve had the privilege to keep company with Mr. Mars Volta.

Making your average musician appear somewhere between lazy and just plain unproductive the afro wielding prolific guitarist has lent his talents to somewhere close to thirty LPs in some shape or other in the last 12 years.

Turning up for one of his gigs leaves those in attendance left to guess what material from his 22 or so solo efforts he may break out with.

The answer soon becomes clear – none of course!

The pesky virtuoso has a batch of new workings to treat us with.

Before any of that though I manage to catch 10 or so minutes of tonight’s support, Mono/Poly, complete with obligatory Mac his block rock n beats don’t seem to garner much attention from the chitter chatter awaiting the nights main event.

In fairness, he at least seems to enjoy himself with some DJ shadow vibe cut paste trickery far removed from anything related to Omar Rodriguez Lopez.

Despite this, a generous Glasgow crowd manages to give the opener a decent send off from a filling up venue.

There is a smell of anticipation in the air and for just over 60 minutes Omar Rodriguez Lopez and his associates cast a spell on a Glasgow audience with a set of exclusively new soundscapes.

Without the services of Cedric Bixlar Zavala, Lopez instead chooses to utilize the considerable vocal talents of Teri Gender Bender, a woman appearing to channel an irritated Siouxsie Sioux fighting against herself.

Opening with a bass heavy number we are eased in to this new collaboration as Teri roars “why, why?” to a public engaged with this contorting unknown frontwoman.

What follows seems the closest Lopez has ever come to a standard rock number but whose incessant tribal drumming has the crowd stirred.

Although no tracks from Lopez’s lengthy back catalogue make an appearance spirits are high as everyone enjoys a new band hitting the ground running in the live setting.

‘Turtle neck where could you be little turtle neck” Teri asks in a rare moment of relative quiet before exploding back to a position of unease using an amp as a jumping platform as Lopez and co. return to reassuringly familiar Latino funk outs.

A seven-minute synth driven number follows as the singer retreats to a back corner of the stage, perhaps to resist the temptation to stand atop anything other than the stage again.

The night centres on rocking out (not always Lopez focus), with Lopez hammering out riff after riff of eccentric but controlled guitar lines.

On drums, The Mars Volta and KUDU’s Deantoni Parks keeps rhythm while controlling a synthesizer with the other.

Fellow KUDU member, Nicci Kasper, on synth and samples, completes tonight’s complement of musicians.

Some have suggested in recent live performances with his first band, one-time rock saviours At The Drive-In, Lopez seems removed and uninterested in the straightforward progressions; it almost seems too easy for him.

But tonight, with his own material, he reignites that spark that makes him one of the most charismatic guitar players on the planet.

After an hour long set of pounding electronic beats and mesmerizing musicianship the moment arrives for Omar to speak and introduce his new band as ‘Bosnian Rainbows’.

He appears genuinely pleased and humbled as he explains what an honour it is to play around the world doing what he wants to do and that without people’s support nothing else would be attainable.

This glimpse of humanity leads me to question if I should now be able to forgive the lack of a ATDI reunion show round these parts.

Words: Andy Quigley
Photos: Neil Jarvie

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