Outside of some spot touring in the ‘90s spearheaded by original guitarist John Goodsall and bassist Percy Jones, it’s been 39 years since Brand X toured with “Livestock”-era drummer Kenwood Dennard, who along with recent recruits Chris Clark (keyboards) and Scott Weinberger (percussion), are drawing a dedicated niche of supporters from all over the globe. In fact, local faithful and those who flew in could be seen with stacks of records, miscellaneous memorabilia and recording devices ready to go as the remarkably rare occasion anchored Friday’s edition of Progtoberfest II at Reggies Chicago (thanks to promoter/miracle worker Kevin Pollack).
“Nuclear Burn” came across as a runaway favorite, perhaps best fitting the progressive motif of the event, though once again, it expanded in adventurous directions that found the players and the audience simultaneously locking into just the right groove.
Despite the many decades since this nucleus performed together, Brand X more than made up for lost time with a 90 minute set that favored extended jams over a high quantity of selections. Even so, the progressive/jazz fusion/world-influenced act lived up to its promise of culling material from three of its most influential projects (“Unorthodox Behaviour,” “Moroccan Roll” and “Livestock”), alongside a few additional surprises and solos.
The show began just a few strokes before midnight, but rather than appearing weary at the advancing hour, Brand X rampaged through “Nightmare Patrol,” “Euthanasia Waltz” and “Born Ugly” with vitality and technical precision. Though the general structure of the original versions were evident, the guys frequently tossed glances at one another while working out improvisational ideas on the fly, all of which went over exceedingly well and lived up to everyone’s exceptional reputations on their respective instruments.
“Nuclear Burn” came across as a runaway favorite, perhaps best fitting the progressive motif of the event, though once again, it expanded in adventurous directions that found the players and the audience simultaneously locking into just the right groove. And the spontaneity kept right on coming, from “Macrocosm” to “Malaga Virgen” and “And So To F,” all accompanied by a scrolling visuals on an overhead screen that read “Brand X: Intense Ahead,” which couldn’t have been a more appropriate tag line to the unpredictable, intriguing and fruitful path about to be paved now that the engines are officially back up and running.
Click here for more Brand X photos from Progtoberfest II at Reggies Chicago.
For additional information on Brand X, visit the official Brand X page on Facebook.
For a list of upcoming shows at Reggies Chicago, visit ReggiesLive.com.