Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Live: The Black Heart Procession @ Fuzz Club (Athens, March 31st, 2017)

It's been six years already since the last time we saw The Black Heart Procession in Athens, in one of their last tours before they decided to take a break. Back then Pall Jenkins and Tobias Nathaniel, the creative core of the group, had played as a duo, presenting a stripped down acoustic show with only the bare essentials: a keyboard, a guitar and Pall’s signature instrument, the musical saw.

The reunion of the band came about as we've reached the 20th anniversary of its formation and to mark the occasion, Pall and Tobias decided to revisit the songs of "1", their debut album recorded in 1997. Enlisting the help of two musicians from Serbia, this new version of The Black Heart Procession presented "1" in its entirety, giving the opportunity to their fans, old and new, to listen live the eleven songs that started their story.

Although personally I am more fond of their work during the next decade and especially of "Amore Del Tropico", their fourth album from 2002, the songs from "1" have certainly retained their melancholic charm and represent the romantic, "black" heart of the group as good as any of their subsequent albums.

If you’re looking for the highlights of the hour-long main set, I would say that for each member of the audience these would have to coincide with their favorite songs off the album, as its live presentation was quite faithful to the recorded version. So for me the stand-out moment was "Release My Heart", the most electrifying song of a mainly acoustic record, followed by "Blue Water Black Heart' and "Square Heart" (as you can understand, the matters of the heart are ubiquitous on "1").

The show closed with a three song encore, during which Pall Jenkins addressed the audience for the first time, not only to thank us for being there at the last show of this tour, but also to explain the reasons for choosing these particular songs for the finale. So, for "A Cry for Love" the choice was down to the popularity of this track on YouTube (and I’m guessing from the enthusiastic reception of the crowd that a lot of the "likes" came from Greece). Regarding "The War Is Over" (from the album "Three"), it was the anti-war subject matter the deciding factor, while "Borders", the new song that closed the evening, was chosen as it speaks about the refugee and immigration issues, currently at the forefront of the news. As Pall pointed out, San Diego, the band's hometown which is located near the borders with Mexico, is strongly influence by Latin culture and no wall can break the strong ties that exist between people, regardless where they are coming from.

With these three songs The Black Heart Procession waved goodbye and renewed our rendezvous for their next tour. Let's see where this reunion will lead, beyond this first rate opportunity to retrace the band's first steps.

The Black Heart Procession - A Cry for Love (live in Athens)

The Black Heart Procession - Square Heart (live in Athens)

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