Monday, June 25, 2018

Golden Dawn Arkestra - Live 2018.06.24 Kantine am Berghain, Berlin, Germany

I have seen this band six times before, and it was bands like this that made leaving Austin a less than easy decision. However, I'm clearly not their only fan, and their stature is such that this wasn't even their first European tour. They also just released their second full-length album, Children of the Sun.

Artist: Golden Dawn Arkestra
Venue: Kantine am Berghain
Location: Berlin, Germany
Date: 24 June 2018

01. Children of the Sun
02. Osaka
03. Wings of Ra
04. Cosmic Dancer
05. Afropocalypse
06. Spacewaves
07. The Wolf
08. Dimensions
09. Promised Land →
10. Disko
11. Stargazer
12. Sama Chaka
13. Masakayli

14. Percussion solo →
15. Saharan Knights
16. Clouds

The band started the night in their standard fashion with a march through the crowd with incense and whatever instruments lent themselves to mobile performance. The venue was too small for the experience to be as grand as it could be, but it's always a good way to start the show. "Children of the Sun", the title track of the new album, served as a fitting opener. They proceeded with a balanced mix of songs from their catalog, ultimately playing more songs from their first album (Stargazer, 2016) than from the new one. They avoided most of the slower and softer songs of Children of the Sun and focused on their more intense and dance-friendly material.

However, they did perform "Promised Land" in the extended version that closes the new album, with a long, low-key, spaced out instrumental section. Naturally, this segued directly into another powerful groover, "Disko". The other big change was that at the start of their encore, initially only the three primary percussionists came out. They played with the audience and tried out some varying rhythms until the rest of the band slowly came on stage and joined in for "Saharan Nights" from their debut EP. Other highlights were "The Wolf", which they described as their "fight song" for love and light, and "Masakayli", which they transformed into an even more extended jam than it normally is. At the conclusion of "Clouds", the members gradually started jumping into and dancing with the crowd.

Compared with past shows, this set was as solid as ever. The new songs they played fit right in, which is hardly surprising considering that at least three of them have already been played live for at least a year or two. However, on this occasion there were only ten members on stage. (Only ten! I know!) Musically, they were only lacking another horn player or a second guitarist. The biggest difference was the lack of dancers. Only one member focused mostly on dancing, although she also provided backing vocals and percussion. I also recognized an eleventh member of the band at the forefront of the audience, and although he danced energetically throughout the show, he was not in costume.

There's not much else that I could write about this band to say that I haven't written before. They've never disappointed me yet. I was curious how the rigors of international touring would affect the band, but if I hadn't have paid close attention, I barely would have noticed anything different from an average Austin show. Musically, excepting a few barely missed cues, they were perfectly on point. The grooves were strong, the mix was good, and their appearance was as bizarre and impressive as ever.

Score: A

P.S. Do not be deceived: this show was not in the infamous Berghain club. It was around the corner in a much smaller venue. However, I did get to walk past the long and ridiculous line of clubbers waiting to get in the main attraction.

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