LIVE: Nektar @ The Linda, 03/24/2022
Amazingly, this is the 53rd year of the band’s existence. Even more notable is that 3 of the original 5 members are still in place; drummer/vocalist Ron Howden, bassist/vocalist Derek “Mo” Moore, and lighting technician (or as he is grandly titled “Visual Environment”) Mick Brockett, non-playing yes, but always considered an essential part of the team. Moore proudly stated of his rhythm section partner: “Ron and I have been playing together for 60 years!”
The band is rounded out by newer recruits Randy Dembo – bass/guitar/pedals, Ryche Chlanda – vocals/guitar, Kendall Scott – keys, and MaryAnn Castello – backing vocals.
Nektar was formed in 1969. Although all of them were Brits, the fact that they were originally based in Germany led to the oft-repeated misconception that they were a German band. Nektar’s music can be compared to other bands of that era, the slow stately organ drenched passages recalling pre–Dark Side Pink Floyd, the dense and murky repetitive riffing, somewhat like a more polished Hawkwind.
All of this was on display at The Linda, deep cuts from their extensive catalog as the name of the tour suggested, and impressively, 3 songs from their latest album, 2020’s “The Other Side”, proving that they are not just an exercise in nostalgia.
Unfortunately, based on this performance, Chlanda (replacing original frontman Roye Albrighton, who passed away in 2016) struggled to meet the requirements of the role. Maybe he was just having an off night, but his vocals did not seem up to the task, constantly veering off-key, out of time, and in some instances missing lines altogether. The same can be said for his guitar solos, overly relying on his wah-wah pedal and whammy bar, and often failing to mesh with the rest of the band. Castello, in darkness at the back of the stage, was both undermiked and under-utilized. I suggest that she could have been given more vocal responsibility to help Chlanda out. Or maybe give more passages to Howden, who handled his few vocal sections with more confidence.
Regardless, the majority of the audience (mostly bearded prog grey hairs, er, like myself) appeared to have no such misgivings and gave the band a warm and appreciative reception throughout.
And I too was pleased to see a veteran band, whose music I have long enjoyed, still treading the boards. Even if they didn’t play “Astral Man” …
- Sao Paulo Sunrise
- Costa Del Sol
- Marvelous Moses
- It’s All Over
- Cast Your Fate
- Remember The Future Parts 1 and 2
- The Dream Nebula Part 1
- Good Day
- King of Twilight
- Encore – I’m On Fire