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Ivory Black's, Glasgow
Friday 20th November 2015

Ian Sutherland
ian sutherland

caligula's horse

Australian prog rockers Caligula's Horse have come a long way in a short time. Only four years on from their formation in the suburbs of Brisbane they have just released their critically acclaimed third album 'Bloom' on German label Inside Out, a significant player in the progressive rock genre.

This change in label also means that they get to tour outside their native Australia and they have been on an adventure supporting Norwegian avant garde Metallers Shining through troubled times in the continent. This included an emotional show in Paris a few days after the terrorist atrocities.

Tonight it is about business as usual on a cold night in Glasgow though and the band members throw themselves into the high energy opening song 'Dark Hair Down'. The stage setting in Ivory Black's is minimalist to say the least and there is no light show and a slightly flat atmosphere in the hall so it takes a little while for me to get the band's busy style into perspective and grasp what they are doing.

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It doesn't take long though as by the time they slide neatly into the title track of their new album you can hear what a fine bunch of musicians they are.

Drummer Geoff Irish is really impressive flicking through endless amounts of fluid fills on his tiny kit and lead guitarist Sam Vallen plays some outstanding stuff throughout. All the band are full of energy and full of beards too as they have an impressive line up of those as well!

caligula's horse

It is tracks taken from 'Bloom' that dominate the set and while you can hear elements of the songs that might remind you of dramatic Leprous-like prog here or a particularly ambitious slice of sub Chilli Peppers funk there, the end result is a style all their own.

I love the melodies they use in Jim Grey's top notch vocals and the vocal harmonies from the entire band on 'Firelight' are tremendous. The stop-start riffery of 'Daughter Of The Mountain' shows how much of a big, beefy two guitar sound they can have but when the song slides into its gentler sections there is a strength of song writing and performance which easily keeps the audience's attention.

caligula's horse

All too soon it's time for the set to end and final tune 'The City Has No Empathy' is deeply impressive with its twists and turns. This and their performance overall left me needing to go and check out their first two albums, the quality song writing is obviously not a recent phenomenon.

These talented Australians made some new friends tonight and showed they have the personality, presence and musical talent to be a formidable and engaging live act. I hope that they soon get to show bigger audiences in Europe all they are capable of.

Line up:
Jim Grey - Lead Vocals
Zac Greensill - Guitar/Vocals
Dave Couper - Bass/Vocals
Geoff Irish – Drums
Sam Vallen - Guitar/Everything Else

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