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Garaj Mahal - 22/09/08


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Last night was the first time I had the privilege to see Garaj Mahal since they opened for Karl Denson at the Commodore many years ago. It was worth the wait.

The Spirit Bar in Nelson is a fairly small venue - similar(ish) to Maverick's or PJC. There was a pretty decent crowd, but I'm a bit shocked that the place was not packed. That's a Sunday night in a dance club town, I guess.

The show stumbled a little in the beginning. Haque's rig was acting up and there were a few issues with the house system. Despite the problems, they still layed it down. These guys have an interesting way of warming up - they just give'r.

You could see that Haque was a bit choked. His sound was constantly giving him grief through the show. And, some wasted dude decided he was going to be the band's personal server and kept climbing all over the stage to bring them drinks and bumping into them all while they were playing. All the same, the man is an animal on the guitar. Once they got into the second set and hit their groove, he really proved what he's all about.

Kai Eckhardt is the man. He sits back to give space where its needed. Lays on killer funk lines with unthinkable rhythms. And, dances the scales at unreal speed. I kept finding myself fixated on him no matter what insanity was coming out of the rest of the band.

The first time I saw these guys I was so floored with Haque and Eckhardt that I hardly noticed Eric Levy. Last night he grabbed a bit more attention with some of the crazy shit he pulled out. His soloing is pretty out of hand, but the sounds he's using now make for some incredible texture.

I was a bit disappointed when I learned that Alan Hertz had left the band. However, the new guy is filling those shoes pretty damned well. Its impossible to say that losing Alan Hertz is a good thing. Given that he's gone, though, Sean Rickman makes for good changes to GM. As you'd expect he's an utterly mind-blowing drummer, but he also has a great voice and is bringing a new vocal focus to (some of) the music. During the first set, Rickman led the band through a very cool version of the Police's When the World is Running Down.

Ottawa/Toronto/Hamilton - get ready. And, someone make sure there's some ganja around. I met Haque as I was coming into the venue. As he was heading to the stage, he was complaining to the promoter that there had been no smoke around...

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I met Haque as I was coming into the venue. As he was heading to the stage, he was complaining to the promoter that there had been no smoke around...

in Nelson!? What the hell? that's the equivalent to no traffic in Toronto..it just doesn't happen!

looking forward to the Toronto show :)

Don't they play out that way every year or so? I think the first time I heard of them was through Upstream bringing them in.

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