Naxatras

Wednesday 14th September 2022

The Green Door, Brighton

Bit of an unscheduled one, and shorter than usual, but not often I stumble across something new (to me) and feel the need to spread the word a little.

I found myself staying over in Brighton for a staff event (unlike other scribes here at Wrinkly Towers, I sadly still have a day job that takes most of my attention), and a colleague over from Spain, Pablo, informed a couple of us that he had tickets for a gig that night. Not only was the venue a delightfully short distance from the hotel, but the band in question, Naxatras from Greece, professed to be a Psychedelic Rock band.

Interest piqued by a cheeky whizz through their third album when I really should have been working, I decided that a visit to The Green Door, a small venue actually under Brighton Station, was fully in order and would actually constitute a better evening than the curry I was planning on enjoying.

This was further enforced by discovering that after their self-titled debut album, subsequent releases are simply entitled II, III, and IV... as a massive Focus fan, I took this as a very good sign ☺

And how pleased I am that I did. These four guys from Greece - John Delias (guitar/vocals), John Vagenas (bass/vocals), Kostas Charizanis (drums) and Pantelis Kargas (keyboards) - played for over 90 minutes with a spread of material drawn from their four albums to date in a (mostly instrumental) set that was variously energetic, heavy, delicate, intricate but always engaging and interesting.

I am still finding it difficult to summarise or compare their style. I asked bassist John about influences briefly after the gig - he offered Pink Floyd and Eloy, and agreed with my suggestions of Hawkwind and Ozric Tentacles (though a bit less so for Muse, which I flung in from left field - although a couple of pieces had a section of the largely young crowd moshing away like good 'uns whilst I was at the back thinking of favourable comparisons to the lary section of ‘Knights of Cydonia’... but maybe that's just because the crowd was bouncing ☺). I get the Eloy influence, but the keyboards are more subdued (or at least they were in tonight's mix) and they are a lot heavier.

So a bit Eloy/Floyd-y but heavier (imagine the echoey guitar tone of the beginning of ‘Run Like Hell’, then alternate between delicate, ethereal pieces and some quite crunchy riffing)... not as space-y as Hawkwind or OT (although some wonderfully Tim Blake-y sounds occasionally coming from keyboard player Pantelis Kargas) ... and not as... well, random - as Muse. I asked another punter of similar vintage how he'd describe them to a friend and he agreed... hints and shadows of those bands listed, but very, very much their own thing.

No time for a detailed track by track analysis, but suffice to say that from beginning to end the musicianship was superb, the delivery was tight, the setlist well constructed and captivating. It's a rare thing for me to get immediately taken with a new band (old dogs and all that), but Naxatras have managed to lure me in very, very quickly.

There was not time to get this published before they completed this run of UK dates (including a turnout at Camden’s The Underworld on two night later) and headed off to Europe, but I wholeheartedly recommend checking out their discography to date (all available on Spotify, a selection of videos on YouTube accessible from their website) and keeping an eye on their tour calendar for their next visit.

Mark C

Setlist:
(Very kindly provided by John V after the gig)

On the Silver Line (III)
Omega Madness (IV)
Journey to Narahmon (IV)
Proxima Centauri (II)
Machine (III)
Horizon (IV)
Waves (I)
All the Stars Collide into a Single Ray (EP)
I am the Beyonder (I)
The Great Attractor (II)