Juno Reactor feat. SUGIZO in Warsaw

live report - 22.01.2010 04:00

Juno Reactor’s performance in Warsaw, Poland rocked the audience.

Highly anticipated Juno Reactor’s concert in Warsaw, part of a two-man tour with Laibach, called Double Headline European Tour 2009, began after half an hour of delay. First a band from Slovenia performed and got a very enthusiastic response from an audience. After playing a gig that lasted over an hour and one encore, the musicians left the stage. The staff then started to set up for Juno Reactor.

The leader of this group is Ben Watkins, and their compositions are a conglomerate of various music genres: electronic, instrumental, classic or ethnic (the band is considered as a precursor of goa trance). Juno Reactor’s line-up is constantly changing, but on that day in Warsaw British singer Taz Alexander, hip-hop artist Ghetto Priest, Mabi Thobajane from South Africa and – of course - SUGIZO appeared. Around 10:30 pm Ben Watkins came on the stage, and after taking his place behind a laptop, he introduced the rest of musicians, who appeared one by one. Each was greeted with hearty applause by the audience, but it was SUGIZO who aroused the loudest enthusiasm.

The concert began mildly with a rather slow, swinging melody, but after just a few minutes gained a tremendous momentum, intensified by the vigorous Amampondo dance. A moment later Taz Alexander majestically entered the stage to sing both parts of Conquistador from the Labyrinth album. Ghetto Priest, who practically took over the latter part of the concert, established an amazing contact with the gathered people. He encouraged them to have fun all the time, chaffed with them and repeated slogans like "Welcome in the house of pain", "Open your minds" or "Take off the mask."

After a somewhat static perfromance from Laibach, Juno Reactor immediately changed the atmosphere. It was impossible to stand still during their set – many of their songs are filled with pure rhythm that compelled us to dance. African drums added an unusual taste to Juno’s composition, as did SUGIZO’s great sounding guitar – every note he played could be clearly heard. This performance, in which all musicians took part – not only playing, but dancing too (SUGIZO’s dance has become famous among Juno Reactor fans) was compounded also by colourful lights, perfectly suited to the resounding music, making it an amazing experience for the senses.

The band played their relatively long songs with barely a pause between, therefore it was a bit difficult - especially for people unfamiliar with their works - to determine where one ended and the next started. Juno Reactor performed mostly songs from their three latest albums - Labirynth, Shango and Gods and Monsters. Pistolero was particularly impressive, especially due to carefully selected pulsating lights, its almost elegiac chorus and the fans’ involvement. There was also, requested by audience, Mona Lisa Overdrive, probably the most famous Juno Reactor song from the "Matrix: Reloaded” soundtrack. The live version of City of Sinful, as well as Conga fury from the Bible of Dreams album were also particularly impressive.

Although fans who came to Palladium that afternoon didn’t have a chance to hear SUGIZO’s violin play (he had played it in Breslau), it can’t be denied that the guitarist had his own five minutes. In one of the songs he played a breathtaking solo on his acoustic guitar. Moreover, throughout the whole concert it was obvious that he had a great time; He constantly interacted with the audience, for example posing for photos. After the main part of the performance, when the rest of the band had already left, SUGIZO stayed for a while on the stage taking pictures of gathered people or himself against the audience. Of course, the show couldn’t be complete without the throwing of guitar picks or dousing the crowd with water.

When the main part of the performance ended, the audience immediately began to call Juno Reactor back for an encore. The crowd was chanting the band’s name and stamping loudly, which gave an incredible effect. The audience didn’t have to wait very long for the musicians, who quickly appeared on the stage again. Almost immediately African drums sounded, and the group started another song with the clear, sharp sound of the Japanese member’s guitar. Responding to the fans’ request, Juno Reactor returned for another encore, unfortunately this time for the last one.

During that evening Juno Reactor totally charmed the gathered people, even those who had come to the concert only because of the Slovenian band or SUGIZO. Their show was vivid, spontaneous and full of positive energy – especially in comparison with the quite monolithic performance of Laibach. It’s a pity that the meeting with fans, announced earlier by Ben Watkins, didn’t occur, perhaps due to organizational issues. Despite this, after this event Juno Reactor certainly gained many new fans and they could expect a similarly enthusiastic response during their next visit to Poland.
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