I saw Ohm perform last night at the Prairie Arts Performing Center in Schaumburg Illinois. If you're not familiar, Ohm is an awesome heavy fusion instrumental trio with Chris Poland on guitar, Robert Pagliari on bass, and Kofi Baker on drums. Kofi is not with the band on this tour, so Joel Taylor (Allan Holdsworth, Frank Gambale) is filling in. The band played 2 sets. The material consisted of tunes from their 3 CD's, one or 2 new tunes that have not yet been recorded, and 3 awesome vocal blues covers that I'll elaborate on later.
This was an incredible show. They started a little late (due to a lengthy sound check I believe). Other than that, it went off without a hitch. Chris Poland just wailed all night. He has a very eclectic style. Very convicted, with lots of bends and slides. And his picking is super-smooth and very fast. He was always changing tones and effects throughout each tune as well. He would often bring in a delay or harmonizer for just a passage or two, then back out to his normal tone. This gave the illusion that the band was bigger than it really was. Pagliari just killed on six-string fretless bass. He has a very unique sound as well. He would sometimes hit a harmonic then slide it up the fretboard while hitting the wah-wah pedal to get these weird sounds. Very cool player. Joel Taylor was awesome too. He had a great drum solo near the end of the first set.
'Joog In Da Boot', 'Tara', and 'Davinci' were all standouts for me. 'Icarus Falls' was great too. Another awesome piece was a long improv jam based on the Jimi Hendrix tune 'Machine Gun'. Very cool. For the final song of the first set, they played 'Sitting On Top Of the World'. Pagliari took on the vocal duties on this and the other 2 vocal tunes, and he sounded great. Poland sounds awesome playing blues stuff. He has a real knack for playing classic blues licks extremely fast and clean. They ended the second set with 'Red House'. All I can say is - Wow! Poland killed on this tune. Holy crap was he wailing. And for an encore, they played 'Crossroads'. The riff they used was not the one most people are probably familiar with from the Cream version. I wasn't sure what they were playing until the vocals came in. It was very cool, and Poland was awesome - again.
It was a real treat to see a band like this so close to home. The show was promoted by the newly formed Chicago Fusion Coalition. Apparently, they are looking to bring more fusion-type acts to the Chicago area. My hats off to them for bringing in Ohm for this fantastic show.