SKYHARBOR @ Barfly, London – 13-10-2013

SKYHARBOR @ Barfly, London – 13-10-2013

Tonight, history was made. Band members from three different continents came together, culminating in one momentous concert: Skyharbor were in London for the first time ever.

The very presence of these members was impressive enough, but the sonic beauty that was unleashed pushed this occasion into the realms of incredulity. Gathering in the Barfly, Camden, 200 privileged few bore witness to the band’s brief but breathtaking set.

 

An unforeseeable incident prevented main support Benea Reach from playing, but there was still a local act to get the crowd warmed up for the headliners.

SKYHARBOR   Barfly, London   13 10 2013 skyharbor shields Progressive metal  photo MetalMouth.net

Photo: Yatin Srivastava

Chosen were Shields, who represented the almost complete antithesis to Skyharbor in several factors. Firstly, their chosen style of music was more in line with the newer end of breakdown-driven metalcore, with only minimal sections of “ambient” and guitar melodies to offset the chugging rhythms they predictably fell into.

Secondly, the vocal style of the frontman was almost exclusively harsh shrieking yells, interspersed with occasional deep growls – the latter far more preferable to the former – while his crowd interaction could have been the inspiration for the “Every Metalcore Vocalist” video.

And well, the less said about the rhythm guitarist’s pop-punk-inspired clean vocals, the better.

SKYHARBOR   Barfly, London   13 10 2013 skyharbor shields Progressive metal  photo MetalMouth.net

Perhaps the nail in the coffin, however, was that virtually every song felt nearly identical in pattern, including the horrendous cover of Lady Gaga’s overdone “Bad Romance”, complete with certain crowd members chucking themselves recklessly around the room and knocking others over.

All of this resulted overall in a very lackluster show that was tough to get into without prior interest in their style. There was but one redeeming factor about Shields‘ performance, which was the unrelenting enthusiasm; whether everyone bouncing in unison or the vocalist’s relentless and energetic performance, it was clear that they were passionate about their music. While Shields were not to everyone’s taste, this enthusiasm was directly in line with the band who were to follow them onto the stage.


After a brief changeover, the familiar opening riff of “Dots” kicked in and it was time to marvel at Skyharbor.

The five guys clearly felt a lot more comfortable playing together, executing each twist and turn with grace and ease, compared to their albeit triumphant show at UK Tech-Fest earlier this year. The instrumentalists in particular appeared more animated in their grooving and headbanging than before. Anup Sasty on the drums was a marvel to watch, flowing through crazy fills and head-nodding rhythms with tight precision.

The fellows on the guitars were no less impressive, whether in thundering groove, soothing jazzy ambient or stunning soloing like on “Catharsis”. It wasn’t long before they were drenched in sweat, particularly Anup (who was bewilderingly in a hoodie), but that didn’t diminish their enthusiasm one bit as they played virtually all of the first disc of their début Blinding White Noise in order.

SKYHARBOR   Barfly, London   13 10 2013 skyharbor shields Progressive metal  photo MetalMouth.net

Photo: Yatin Srivastava

Front and center in all of this, in a buttoned sleeveless coat and with a piercing gaze, was Dan Tompkins. There are few words that can do his vocal display justice, as the crowd stood in awe of the notes he hit on “Night” or “Aurora”, or the occasional roaring scream he unleashed, like on the line “Everybody dies, everybody drifts away”.

There were also goosebump moments in the surprise Skyharbor had in store: a new song entitled “Halogen”. While live renditions of new songs often fail to represent them in the best light, “Halogen” sounded as magnificent as the other tracks, particularly the ethereal singing in the verses.

When he later started wailing effortlessly in the vein of soul singers, it was simply jaw-dropping, and earned a hearty round of applause. What was perhaps most remarkable was he did all these vocal gymnastics while moving fluidly as a theatrical dancer, such as weaving around in the rapid-fire vocal delivery on “Celestial” or the wide-armed gestures on closer “Maeva”.

SKYHARBOR   Barfly, London   13 10 2013 skyharbor shields Progressive metal  photo MetalMouth.net

Photo: Yatin Srivastava

While of course 40 minutes were going to pass incredibly quickly, those minutes were close to pure bliss, and confirmation if it were needed that Skyharbor are one of the best bands to have emerged in the past couple of years.

A toast to the five fine djentlemen, and long live Skyharbor.

Reviewer: Mark Angel

facebook.com/Shieldsuk | shieldsuk.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/Skyharbor7basickrecords.com

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.