Gig review: MESSENGER – The Borderline, London, 15 October 2014

Review by Yiannis (John) Stefanis
Photos by Yiannis (John) Stefanis

In the short period since they first came together as a band back in 2012, Psychedelic/Progressive Rock troupe Messenger have really made their presence felt in the music world.

Having released a very strong debut album in “Illusory Blues”, the London quintet has opened a great show for the mighty Anathema in the amazing settings of the Union Chapel and, only a few weeks ago, won the top prize in the “Limelight” category at this year’s Progressive Music Awards.

In view of such recent developments, one would expect The Borderline to have been crammed with people on the night of the 15th of October so I was both surprised and disappointed by the fact that only fifteen minutes prior to the band hitting the stage, the venue was so empty it was really easy to find a place to stand right at the front.

MESSENGER – The Borderline, London, 15 October 2014

More preoccupied with the task of getting their numerous instruments to work on time, the members of Messenger made their way onto the stage moments after a moody intro and an appropriate video projection were first aired, and kick-started the proceedings with the groovy and energy driven “Midnight” – one of my favourite tracks of the album.

Even though the crowd was clearly on the band’s side from the start, frequent instrument and pedal changes by guitarists Khaled Lowe and Barnaby Maddick were performed in what seemed like a rushed manner by the duet – one which, nonetheless, managed to keep things under relative control.

It was most probably due to pure adrenaline that Khaled Lowe began performing “Let The Light In” in the wrong key, providing the one and only really embarrassing moment of the night, however the rest of the band managed to deal with his mistake in a very professional manner by providing a very impassioned vocal performance for us to enjoy.

MESSENGER – The Borderline, London, 15 October 2014

Equally impressive in its delivery, “The Return” is one of the best songs Pink Floyd never wrote – a song that enabled Lowe and Maddick to showcase a unique chemistry in terms of vocal delivery.

By the time the melodic 70s opus “Somniloquist” was performed, any nerves the band may have had seemed to have settled, allowing the band to provide a passionate, though slightly under-rehearsed, performance of “Piscean Tide”.

The funniest moment of the show would have to be when Khaled Lowe introduced, much to our amusement, “The Perpetual Glow Of A Setting Sun” as a pretentiously-named Prog piece and the band’s set was completed with and emotionally-charged dynamically-performed rendition of “Dear Departure”, following which the members of the band quickly thanked the small but loyal and involved audience and made their way out.

If I were to compare tonight’s show with the band’s performance at the Union Chapel a few months ago I would have to admit that I did enjoy the latter a tad more which, I do believe had more to do with the choice of venue rather than anything else.

Tonight the stage of The Borderline was quite small for a band of the style, capabilities and…instrumental capacity of a band like Messenger – still, I am fairly convinced that there wasn’t a single member of the audience who left the venue feeling disappointed.

These young lads have something pretty special going and deserve all the support they can get – not only from their fans and label but also from London’s gig promoters.  Hopefully, next time we get to see them perform live it will be in a more appropriate venue.

Messenger Set List:
“Intro”/ “Midnight”/ “Let The Light In”/ “The Return”/  “Somniloquist” / “Piscean Tide”/ “The Perpetual Glow Of A Setting Sun” / “Dear Departure”

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