by Christy Peterson
On May 13th, 2023, Haken and Arch Echo hit the stage at The Underground in Charlotte, North Carolina. These two prog giants left little to be wondered about their talents after their performances.
Arch Echo kicked off the show with their phenomenal stage presence, and their explosive, energetic sound carried throughout their entire set. They looked like they were having as much fun as their music sounds. It was a treat to see them moving around and interacting with each other, smiling nearly the whole time. You can really tell these guys love what they play and have a good time playing it. Guitarist Adam Rafowitz’s expressions went from joy to shock at times, almost as if he was as shocked by what he was performing as the crowd was! He stepped up to perform his solos like a champ in nearly every song performed. It was incredible! Bassist, Joe Calderone had a booming sound, and his beautiful Saito bass guitar really caught my eye during the set. Sonically, everything sounded perfect, just as their recorded tracks sound. The crowd was really into their set, and was cheering for them and having a blast. They played their new song, “Aluminosity”, which keyboardist Joey Izzo introduced by saying, “This track features Jordan Rudess, I am not nearly as good as him, but I will do my best!” And that he did! It was a great performance! The band’s drummer, Richie Martinez, showed his chops in a killer solo in the next song. Afterwards, they played “Battlestar Nostalgica” and “Stella”. They finished off their set by saying that “Color Wheel” would be their last song, but surprised us by actually ending their set with “Afterburger” when “Color Wheel” ended. Overall, this set was bursting with fiery energy and was a blast to see performed!
Next up to take the stage was the English progressive metal band, Haken. They are a favorite band of mine, and it was my 6th time seeing them perform live. This time definitely took the cake as the best performance I have seen from them yet! They just get better and better every time I’ve seen them perform. This tour is following the recent release of their new album, Fauna, but they did a wonderful job by mixing in songs from older albums to accentuate the new songs, despite not necessarily needing to! The crowd (including myself) knew the words to EVERY song and were singing along with frontman Ross Jennings the entire set. It was fantastic to see the new songs performed live. Additionally I was excited to see keyboardist, Peter Jones, play with them for the first time. They kicked off their set with a new song, “Taurus”, then headed into “In Memorium” from The Mountain. The sound was booming when they played “Falling Back to Earth”. Guitarists Richard Henshall and Charlie Griffiths were shredding the whole set with their mixture of wonderfully whimsical and heavy riffs. The band also performed “The Architect” and it is always incredible seeing Ross perform harsh vocals during this song! During “Atlas Stone” I couldn’t help but sob as I sang the words as loud as I could as it is my all time favorite song from them. Afterwards, they played “Elephants Never Forget” and they even played “Celestial Elixir” from their first album, Aquarius. Connor Green’s bass sounded phenomenally smooth during “Celestial Elixir”. This was truly a stacked setlist for fans! For their encore, they definitely did not disappoint!
Haken performed the entirety of Messiah Complex (all five parts)! I know they had to be exhausted after playing their entire set.
I can’t emphasize how wonderful this performance was from them. I am so thankful every time they announce a North American tour because it is always such a treat to see them play!
If you haven’t had a chance to see Haken or Arch Echo live, I recommend you try your best to do so! They will be touring North America until June 3rd. If they’re in a city near you, definitely check them out!