WHAT A pleasant surprise/ Spurred on by the chequebook eyes of A&R spies end a craving for revenge on my pen's cutting edge, Pallas are realising their potential to expand like a balloon and float towards success on the crest of another wave of progressive popularity.
This gig bore the conviction that was sorely lacking in the Scottish shows / saw earlier this year, this had the cool confidence and calm carved-in professionalism that asked with determined politeness rather than earlier ludicrous gibberish: Sign us.
'Queen Of The Deep', after the 'Stingray' theme tune intro tape, is the embarkation point with its airy, hallucinatory submerged section' before poignancy fountains forth in the anti-nuke 'Heart Attack' and 'Crown Of Thorns.'
Talent scouts twitch at 'Arrive Alive', the dirty money single contender and the abbreviated set is completed by the epic fantasy 'Atlantis', preceded by the musical monolith 'March On Atlantis' instrumental, and climaxing with the kind of impassioned sing-song — "AH the world now join hands as one" — that instantly conjures up aircraft hanger expanses of human arms being raised in evertasling unity/
Judging by peakpoint 'March On Atlantis', the only addition since springtime, and having been told that an entirely new set is in these Aberdeeners' pipeline, Pallas' navigation seems to be steering towards a new plane of technical/ composing fluency.
Imagine a techno metal/ Crimson /Yes mixture and you'd be pretty close to the plonky, chunky sound of Graeme Murray's bass, the raunching, whining, whistling or rippling Niall Matthewson guitar, Derek Forman’s sparkling drum propulsion and Ronnie Brown’s choral or tinkling or bobbing keyboarding. With Brown's timekeeping the exception to the rule, the musicianship reduces Eighties rock standards to rubble.
Much lambasted frontman Euan Lowson went through his lightning costume changes — buccaneer baggies scraggy jump suit, snazzy Fonzie leather, tatty cape and mirrored casque - with comfortable ease , and his singing has assumed more identity and virility. Judging by the gratified reaction at this imperative ladder- climbing gig Pallas' fortunes are on the way up. If they can make a return visit soon they should find themselves spearheading the Good Music Rock revival next to Marillion
ANYONE out there with a good memory may wall remember that at far back as issue 151 prophesied the rise of Pallas from the bars of Scotland to the forefront of the British rock scene. Now, and not a moment too soon it seems that prophecy is becoming fact.
On a too brief excursion into the badlands of England Pallas made two assaults on the capital city. The first an unadvertised gig at the Moonlight Club was about as well attended as an SDP meeting (some 10 people turned up) but the second at the Marquee was a jam-packed stormer. The emphasis as ever was on visually projected techno/classical rock of the sort that's slowly becoming *in vogue' with every Tom, Dick and Harry journalist and ligger who thinks that he/she's discovered a new trend, only to find that the ticket-buying public's known about it for some time.
Opening with 'Queen of the Deep' the set was much the same as the one I’d previously seen in Glasgow, only this time they played like a band with something to prove, not just one going through the motions for a home crowd that's seen the show a handful of times before.
Another important factor was vocalist Euan Lowson's relatively sombre onstage demeanour. Not that he's abandoned his colourful end, at time, dramatic stage attire but now his role is less passive than before and no longer does he disappear from the stage for great chunks of the set, a fact that serves to strengthen the unity of the band and give them a more definable front man.
'Heart Attack' flies in the face of the obscene nuclear arms build up with, clad in combat jump-suit, Euan emotively dispensing the misery- ridden lyrics over a Genesis-esque musical skyline intermeshed with synthesised flute and phased keyboards.
The ever-tragic 'Crown of Thorns' features bassist Graeme Murray on soul-torn vocals backed by a fractured riff and a moody synth that gives way to a beautiful, harmonised vocal passage ending with the hymnal misinterpretation of There a is a green hill far away without a city wall, where each of us is crucified in a crown of thorns'. Meanwhile, Euan strikes ■ crucified pose bathed in pure, white light.
As a close to the set the band preview one of the numbers from their soon to be unleashed 'concept sat', the megalithic 'March of Atlantis', opening with a satanic choir that builds into a maelstromic thundering march, and certainly boding well for the rest of the new material when it finally sees the light of day.
Don't wait for I TV to do an expos4 on the revival of progressive hard rock and for the kaftans to start flapping once again in the Carnaby St breeze, check it out now or else you will be, in the words of Pallas, 'wondering why the truth always passes you by'. GEOFF BANKS
I SUPPOSE there could be no greater compliment than to have Fish, the lead singer with Marillion, standing in the crowd watching Pallas and nodding his head, as though to say Not bad, not bad”.
Yes, Pallas wire pretty triumphant. I have to repeat that their music is not precisely my cup of meat but, at the same time, you have simply got to stand back and admire their sheer musicianship and the fact that they are brilliant at what they do.
In addition they did two numbers at the Marquee which, despite my prejudice against the band, were outstanding by anyone's standards. Atlantis'' is a tour de force in anyone's book and, despite the fact that people tend to compare the band to Genesis or Yes, I found myself thinking of Canada's finest. Rush.
They're a fortunate band in that they have a front man of the stature of Euan Lowson and a "back-up" singer like Graeme Murray who has a startling range and depth of power. On "Atlantis", Graeme led the chant-along chorus with a skill and a panache that would not have disgraced Luciano Pavarotti on stage at the New York Met.
It*fe true that Pallas can find themselves lost in the mire of pretentiousness and pomposity, particularly on songs like "Stranger On The Edge Of Time" end "Crown Of Thoms" and yet they always have the saving grace of the impish nature of Lowson and their all-round skill at playing.
They showed their macho man side on "Arrive Alive" which, quite correctly, their PR man Keith Goodwin defined as the nearest they'll ever get to heavy metal. They showed their darker side on the genuinely chilling "The Ripper".
I think I’ll be having nightmares for the next three months just thinking about Euan in nit "dirty old man" mask and the way he sang the chorus to the mask, thus demonstrating that theatricality can be effective and not merely posing.
As yet Pallas are not signed by a major record company which, to me - even as a non-committed observer - is astonishing. They have songwriting ability to spare and musicianship sufficient for half a dozen bands.
You know what? I think they're converting me.
— BRIAN HARRIGAN