Live review by Laura Wiebe; Concert Photos by Adam Wills
Nearing two decades since their last album release, Hamilton’s Varga have a new entry in their discography, and they celebrated the occasion with a live performance at Club Absinthe this past Saturday. Walking into the venue it was hard not to notice the slightly older demographic than Club Absinthe usually attracts – obviously many fans from the old days were on hand to show their continued support.
The show began and ended strong, starting off with a classic and concluding (the main part of their set at least) with the new and catchy “Shark Attack.” The four musicians in Varga clearly have great chemistry and a high degree of skill, and we were treated to frequent displays of virtuosity throughout the evening. The set list favoured the band’s thrashiest and most progressive material, with an obvious emphasis on the new record – Enter the Metal – which means their most widely known tracks from the mid-90s weren’t getting much love. Aside from me (who arrived a little late to the Varga party) and perhaps a guy in a Prototype shirt, no one seemed to mind. It was pretty clear it’s their prog-infused thrash that has the longest-lasting appeal.
In what might be described as a headbangers’ bonding ritual, Varga rang off the night with a few classic covers, expertly performing Mercyful Fate’s “Black Funeral,” Venom’s “Black Metal,” and Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath.” From beginning to end, their performance wove together skill with pleasure – no one could doubt that the guys in Varga, like their fans, were having a great time.