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ArchiveCarlswerk Victoria, Cologne, Germany
17th October 2023
Archive - “Call To Arms And Angels Tour 2023” - Support: Russell Marsden

It was actually almost exactly a year ago that ARCHIVE fans would have gathered at the E-Werk in Cologne on 19th October 2022 to celebrate the album ‘Call To Arms And Angels’, which was released in 2022, with the British collective. The tour had to be postponed last autumn, however, because keyboard player Darius Keeler fell seriously ill.

At that time, the head of the band posted a short video message on social media: “I’m totally overwhelmed by how many people sent their love and support for me, it's amazing and you can't believe how much it means to have that support, thank you all so much. We're going come back so strong for this tour, stay positive with me and let’s smash it next year!” Almost exactly one year later, the tour and consequently the show in Cologne will now take place at the somewhat larger Carlswerk Victoria. RUSSELL MARSDEN, the head and only remaining member of his band BAND OF SKULLS, is there as a solo artist.

Russell Marsden

The British solo artist begins his set 15 minutes before the official start of the evening at 7:45 pm. He uses a loop station to gradually create a sound on which he finally lays his vocals or hangs his electric guitar around his neck and rocks out. Thus, his songs vary stylistically somewhere between alternative rock and trip-hop. During his short performance, it is the songs in which Russell Marsden uses the electric guitar that provoke the most reactions from the audience. The songs that he builds up exclusively with the loop station, on the other hand, remain below their potential.

Music: 6
Performance: 6
Light: 6
Sound: 8
Total: 6.5 / 10

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With the current album ‘Call To Arms And Angels’, the masterminds Darius Keeler and Danny Griffiths go back a bit in their own musical history and combine heavy trip hop with repetitive electronica, classic acoustic piano, driving drums and psychedelic post-rock. Since the setlist of the tour is based to a large extent on the new record, the sound of the evening is predefined.

Music & Performance
It is 8.35 pm when ARCHIVE enter the stage. Seven (!) men take their places, almost all the musicians wear black, only guitarist and singer Dave Pen dares a touch of extravagance with his grey T-shirt. Darius Keeler and Danny Griffiths, on the other hand, wear a kind of work uniform with the band logo, the letter “A”, stitched on it. The two keyboard players take their places at the front left and right of the stage behind their keyboards, in the front centre of the stage are singer Pollard Berrier, who occasionally reaches for his electric guitar during the evening, and Dave Pen, who puts down his electric guitar now and then, but otherwise uses it far more often than his vocal partner.

The band starts the evening with ‘Mr. Daisy’ from the current album and follows it up with the familiar songs ‘Sane’ and ‘Bullets’. What the three songs have in common is that they tend to rock and need little to no warm-up time. The audience thanks the band for the powerful start and is immediately in the mood. After the strong opening, another 13 songs follow, and the Brits are on stage for almost two hours, performing a total of 16 songs. As mentioned, the current album is very much the focus of the eponymous tour. Almost half of the setlist is made up of the new songs. Among them are long tracks like ‘Daytime Coma’, ‘Enemy’, ‘The Crown’ or ‘Gold’. All songs with a running time of 8 to 14 minutes, some of which start quietly or trippy and pile up into a wall of sound in the course of which layer after layer is gradually applied. And even if this pattern is used repeatedly: it simply sounds great and goes down exceptionally well with the audience.

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For part of the setlist, an eighth member of the band is on stage: Lisa Mottram sings from ‘Surrounded by Ghosts’ onwards for a couple of songs, eventually appearing again later for ‘Ghost’. Her vocal performance is impeccable, complementing the voices of the other two frontmen quite wonderfully, for example on ‘Take My Head’ when all three sing into their microphone together. As in the past on older tours, the lightshow on this tour is a feast for the eyes. Whether it's the green lasers like during ‘Enemy’, the mostly golden light during ‘Gold’ or the frequently used use of light sources at the back of the stage, where the musicians are only dimly visible: everything fits perfectly with the music. It really doesn’t get any better than this.

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During the performance, the band does not shine with intensive interactions with the audience, but this also fits the culture of the collective. Nevertheless, as an observer, one notices how comfortable the band feels on stage. Darius Keeler, for example, doesn't actually hold still during any song. Again and again, he marches on the spot or raises a hand to the beat. The (hopefully fully recovered) keyboardist lives the music like no other, is completely absorbed in it. Dave Pen and Pollard Berrier, the men at the microphone, dance again and again, if they get the chance. Unsurprisingly, the evening ends with the Brits’ opus magnum: ‘Again’ crowns an outstanding performance.

01. Mr. Daisy
02. Sane
03. Bullets
04. Vice
05. Stick Me in My Heart
06. Conflict
07. Daytime Coma
08. Surrounded by Ghosts
09. The Skies Collapsing Onto Us
10. Take My Head
11. The Crown
12. Fear There & Everywhere
13. Enemy
14. The Empty Bottle
15. Gold
16. Again

Music: 10
Performance: 9
Light: 10
Sound: 9
Total: 9.5 / 10

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All Pictures by André Wilms

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