Review: ‘The Mars Volta’

The Mars Volta offerred sprawling, epic compositions mostly culled from their recent Universal album, "Francis the Mute," on their one night at the Greek. They play music like no one else at their level of popularity -- it's thoughtful, overreaching and wickedly creative.

The Mars Volta offerred sprawling, epic compositions mostly culled from their recent Universal album, “Francis the Mute,” on their one night at the Greek. They play music like no one else at their level of popularity — it’s thoughtful, overreaching and wickedly creative.

The Mars Volta manages to be constantly engaging through a two-hour-plus show that includes only eight songs. When he’s not finding his Robert Plant screech, singer Cedric Bixler Zavala (also once of At the Drive-In) is never sedentary, sliding across the stage while hackey-sacking his microphone like the world’s luckiest hippie.

Much has been written about the band reigniting the fires of prog-rock, and to call them anything but progressive would be doing them a disservice. “L’Via L’Viaquez” winds from sprawling, messy metal to half-time salsa, taking breaks for free-jazz improv and, on this night, a pass-the-solo segment that included an excited Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante.

Floyd-like space jams during “Cassandra: Geminni,” the five-part opus that closes the new record, sound less like prog contemporaries such as System of a Down than late-period Phish.

The Mars Volta

Greek Theater, Los Angeles; 6,162 seats; $29

Production

Presented by Nederlander. Reviewed June 4, 2005.

Cast

Band: Cedric Bixler Zavala, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Juan Alderete de la Pena, Jon Theodore, Ikey Owens, Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez, Adrian Derrazas, Paul Hinojos-Gonzalez.
Guest: John Frusciante.
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