Live Review: The Mars Volta, Somerset House, London, Monday 13 July 2009

A powerful start, but don't forget the audience
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The Independent Culture

Shockingly, The Mars Volta took to the stage... on time! And they did it with a bang. The crowd were a mixture, but mostly the picture of teen-angst you'd expect in the audience of this prog-rock/psychedelic group with a handful of older, head-banging characters thrown in for good measure.

Although reminiscent of Bill & Ted, The MV practically exploded onto the stage, rousing the crowd from the first hyperactive guitar chords and terrifying drum rhythms. Rodriguez-Lopez and Bixler-Zavala are the ultimate showmen leading the group, while the drummer was like a man possessed, beating out hypnotically crazy beats to songs that tumble on and on without showing any loss of pace or energy.

Unfortunately, despite their talent and energy, they let slip a lack of respect for their audience, and somewhat marred the evening by proclaiming the drudgery of touring the summer festivals. At times you wonder whether they've quite forgotten you're there as they lose themselves in an improv. session, and there was more than one untimely 'loo/bar break' in the set.

The Mars Volta, Octahedron

One definite perk of the evening though was the sheer pleasure exhibited by one middle-aged gigger through what could only be described as interpretive-robot dance. And I couldn't help but notice I wasn't the only one getting a cheeky snapshot of the guy for giggles...

Overall this was a high-energy, impressive performance, with the occasional curveball thrown in, but as a live performance this needed a little bit of fine-tuning and editing to keep the momentum.

Find out more about the Somerset House Series