My last gig of the year, the first time seeing the Utopia Strong and the first time I’ve been to Café Oto. I’d arranged to meet a couple of old University mates at the nearby Victoria pub in Dalston for a couple of pints, so we arrived at Café Oto in good spirits and chatted convivially to the chap who took our tickets, only to be shushed by a member of the audience. In fairness the support band Valve were on and the volume could have done with being a lot louder, but I was somewhat taken aback by this welcome.
Valve finished and we awaited the Utopia Strong. We were chatting with some friendly strangers during the interval who mentioned that the band purely improvise and don’t play their recognised tracks, which made for an intriguing prospect ahead.
The band took to the floor (Cafe Oto doesn’t have a raised stage) and began their set, and it was mesmerising. Accompanied by a fantastic light show, the music was positively trance inducing. The idea of electronica combined with guitar and bagpipes probably sounds really naff, but it worked and was absolutely spell binding. As with all good psychedelia, Kavus Torabi’s occasional vocals were submerged well into the mix, creating a wonderful music and light performance. When the album was released, I made a comment that some of the songs could have been longer, as they stopped before they really got going. In this set each piece of music seemed far more developed and in a long form state, which really let their sound breathe.
I didn’t really know what to expect from this performance, but it was a great night. Knowing what I know now about the venue, I would have approached the evening completely differently but it didn’t detract. Seeing Messrs Torabi, Davis and Yorke so at one with their music was a wonderful thing to behold and it made for a memorable evening.