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Gary War at the Portland Arms Cambridge

Gary War has just started out on an extensive European tour, starting with a few nights in the UK. I first wrote about the band a few months ago and was intrigued to see how Greg, who has played all the instruments on the two releases so far, would interact with additional players.

Gary War @Portland Arms Cambridge

Gary War @Portland Arms Cambridge

Things have moved on apace for Gary War and the band now very firmly comprises Greg (Guitar and Vocal), Eli (drum-pad) and Justin (bass), Greg’s girlfriend is also in the band, but wasn’t able to come on this tour. Planned releases are in the pipeline.

The Portland Arms in Cambridge is a small venue, but has the great advantage as a University City of being a location which draws a disparate group of fans.

I arrived slightly early and was able to spend a while speaking to the guys before they took to the stage. These are undoubtedly musicians who live for their craft and have highly intuitive and creative skills. When I talked about a set list, I was met with a wry smile and Greg let me know, he would give me the set list once they found out what it had been, such is the tight fit and competence of the band in reading the audience, allied to which Greg is a prolific writer so they have plenty of material to draw on as the mood of the evening saw best, what else could I have expected from a highly experimental group of musicians?

The band let their music do all of the talking, with Greg introducing the band after the first song, No Pay Off and closing the set at the end of Good Clues, in-between those two songs, were another six tracks.

The stage at the feet of the band is littered with pedals, on speaking to Justin after the show, this was a relatively pedal free night, only 15 pedals in use by the three musicians. The songs flowed superbly one into another and absolutely true to form Gary War judged the mood of the crowd to perfection, after three stretching tracks they came back with the much faster more mainstream, as far as it is ever possible to call Gary War mainstream, Everynight, following that with the superb Highspeed Drift.

In a live performance the guitar speed of Greg is stunning to watch, strumming in a high speed blur, as the use of extreme voice echo, bass and the tempo of the drum-pad all resonate at a far slower pace.

The mixture of tunes taken from the album Horribles Parade *Gary War - Horribles Parade interspersed with newer pieces showcase the band as the highly effective experimental band they are. With the ability to read the mood of the audience and a huge wealth of material to draw on they are not only highly capable musicians, but acutely aware of where the gig is going.

A great set, but unlikely to be the one you will hear if you get to see them and I would recommend an evening out to watch the band. As I mentioned on my original article on Gary War, whilst experimental, they are not inaccessible and the output doesn’t sound in the least forced or pretentious, bearing in mind the sheer technical creativity surrounding the output, this is no mean feat.

Thanks for the email Greg, great to meet up with you all and good luck with the rest of the tour.

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*purchases made using the Gary War - Horribles Parade link will result in the indie bands blog earning a commission.

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