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Magma played Highline Ballroom in NYC (pics & setlist)

photos by Greg Cristman

Christian Vander
Magma

Since its inception in 1969, the French progressive-rock ensemble Magma have made a curiously heavy music: a dark complex momentum in which the drums — played by leader-composer Christian Vander — are the forward instrument, often flanked by heavily fuzzed bass guitar and the hard watery ring of a Fender Rhodes piano, with an operatic chorale narrating, in a made-up language, extended fictions about the people and wars on the planet Kobaïa. Magma’s rigorous, eccentric execution of Vander’s continuing fantasia may be the least likely survivor of rock’s Euro-prog peak in the early and late ’70s. (A Philip Glass spectacle girded in doom-metal chain mail is a distant but not inappropriate comparison.) At New York’s Highline Ballroom on September 20th, Vander and his wife, vocalist Stella Vander led a Magma in which most of the other players looked a lot younger than the band itself. But this Magma also sounded, amazingly, very much like the one that made the 1970 debut, Kobaîa. In fact, the encore was the title song from that double-album….

After four decades, there is still nothing in rock — prog or otherwise — like Magma. At least in this world. [David Fricke @ Rolling Stone]

Magma played to a sold-out, and mostly seated crowd at Highline Ballroom on Monday night (9/20). People were outside the venue looking for extra tickets, and around 50-75 people were standing inside, around the perimeter of the venue without seats (meaning they didn’t need to spend another $10 which was the table minimum for the approximately 300 people who were sitting). The band’s set consisted of two new songs in the first hour, and their 2009 album Ëmëhntëtt-Rê in its entirety for the second. And as mentioned, above, a one song encore.

The show was one of two US shows for the highly influential zuehl lynch pins. The other was at Sonic Circuits in DC. The setlist and more pictures from the rare NYC appearance, below…

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MAGMA, 9/20/10 Setlist:

Untitled (new song)
Felicite Thosz (new song)
Ëmëhntëtt-Rê (in its entirety)
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Kobaia

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