Bosnian Rainbows (aka Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group)
Deaf Institute, Manchester
With Omar joyously thrashing away on his guitar at the back of the stage, vocalist Teresa Suarez almost steals the show, transforming during the evening to somewhere between a cult member of Summerisle, swaying as Edward Woodward burns screaming in his wicker man, and Verruca Salt. This obviously makes Omar a cross between Christopher Lee and Willy Wonka, orchestrating the whole thing with aplomb.
With the “nostalgia thing” of the At The Drive-In reunion over, The Mars Volta’s musical director can get back to his real business. “Thank you for coming, seriously. Even if you didn’t enjoy it, thank you anyway,” Rodriguez-Lopez intones with real passion and sincerity before the last song of the set – the first time he addresses the audience all night. “I’m not joking. It’s good you got out of the house. Thank you for coming, thank you for supporting us, and thank you for supporting live music.”
Just like The Mars Volta, Rodriguez-Lopez’s solo guises are known for their self-indulgence, self-gratification and steadfast refusal to pander to any expectations. Even the name of the Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group’s latest incarnation, Bosnian Rainbows, is faintly ridiculous and pretty much sums up the love-it-or-hate-it attitude the music inspires. But far from the 20-minute, jazz-fused, prog wigs outs that many might have been expecting, or indeed hoping for, the evening is tighter and more poppy than anyone could have guessed, and downright fun to boot.
Omar gets on with a typically virtuoso display, eyes closed, head banging and feet stomping – a far cry from his almost phoned in, static performances with At the Drive-In this summer. Deantoni Parks quite frankly takes the piss, drumming one handed while also playing the keyboard, and Nicci Casper accompanies with the melody. Suarez ,of Mexican garage band Le Butcherettes, tops it all off with a performance of frightening intensity. She moves across the stage like a spider crab, all arms and elbows, howling with wanton abandon and verging on the unhinged. Her jerky dancing style makes even Ian Curtis look loose and fluid.
Despite the welcome brevity and breath-taking tightness of each song, the best moments come when the superlative Parks picks up his second stick and Omar’s playing threatens to spiral out of control and spill over the edges of sanity. It never does, though, which is a shame. Omar didn’t need to worry about anyone in attendance not enjoying themselves; tonight is a triumph.