The international paragon of progressive metal/djent, TesseracT, gave a performance of unprecedented splendour, transforming Mercury Lounge into something otherworldly, a vacuum in which all that existed was music and movement.
The opening act, South African progressive rock’s Verona Walls, presented an energetic and enjoyable performance that enlivened the crowd, aptly preparing them for the giants they awaited. Vocalist Marco De Sousa indulged in the absurdity and playful vulgarity expected from the realm of alternative gigs, complete with crawling across the crowd floor, his showmanship heightened the levels of pre-existing energy and excitement within the room. The musical style of Verona Walls was also very fitting as a precursor to the heavy groove of TesseracT, and was an opening act well chosen.
The excitement within the crowd during the wait between Verona Walls and TesseracT was something tangible, the air hot with bodies squirming in anticipation that was happily met by ‘Phoenix’, from the Polaris album. The assortment of songs performed provided appeal for fans of the band’s older and newer music alike, ranging from Errai’s ‘Survival’ to ‘April’ from their debut album One. The crowd was pleasantly met with the full rendition of ‘Concealing Fate 1-6’, and the closing performance of ‘Nocturne’ had the levels of energy at a rushing climax. ‘Hexes’ as well as ‘Survival’ also proved crowd favourites, yet I was personally enamoured by the performance of ‘Retrospect’. The setlist as a whole was very evidently curated to flow as a beautiful, singular piece, ebbing between dark and light and keeping the crowd in permanent absorption.
An element that made Mercury Live the perfect venue for this gig was the proximity of the crowd to the band, allowing for a sense of connection as opposed to the hierarchal separation often felt when international bands perform at larger venues. Instead, from where I was standing at the very cusp of the stage, I could see every slight nuance, and could exalt in every finger movement, every body ebb and facial expression. The sheer talent exuding from each member of the band was enthralling. Barefoot bassist, Amos Williams, made executing such beauty seem effortless, his loose hands loose moving with a mind of their own, showcasing true musical prowess that was a pleasure to watch. Vocalist Daniel Tompkins, while not a man of many words, showcased a combination of organic yet mechanic movements that perfectly fitted to the music and his timbre. Alec Kahney on lead guitar and James Monteith on rhythm expertly completed the atmospheric whole.
Throughout the performance there was constant crowd movement and participation, yet the unusual time signatures iconic to TesseracT, excellently held by drummer Jay Postones, allowed for a unique variety of body movement interpretations. It was intriguing to witness how different bodies bobbed and jolted to the beat. Everyone was so absorbed in the music that their bodies became part of it. The crowd enjoyment was truly unquestionable, with almost every face in sight singing, screaming or lost in pure joy.
It was a performance that I honestly wished would not end, and I left with disbelief that I had witnessed something so incredible.
TesseracT performed at Mercury Live on 21 April 2017.