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LIVE REVIEW: Elder, Loppen, 25.04.2016

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Elder

Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

What could be better on a cold, wet Monday evening than a bit of stoner rock at Loppen? A great deal of Copenhageners would have understandably replied “staying warm and dry at home,” but Elder, the headlining act this evening, certainly have their fair share of hardcore fans.

“Stoner rock” tends to denote a particular mentality rather than a well-defined genre. Of the three bands playing tonight, what unites them is a love for Black Sabbath, vintage equipment, and the endorsement (implied or otherwise) of the ‘erb. Openers Carousel tend towards the more traditional hard-rock end of the spectrum, but this is perhaps not the right crowd for that.

Elder

The Oakland-based, follicularly-gifted quintet Mondo Drag are another case entirely. Drawing from esoteric 70s prog, in the vein of Goblin, King Crimson and Camel, the band’s extended jams resonate much more with the audience. The Ozzy-esque vocals are there, as with basically every other band in the stoner category, but the band is at its best when they focus on keyboard-led instrumentals.

Elder

But as soon as Elder begin tearing through “Compendium”, the opening track of their 2015 LP Lore, you get an idea of how the genre can become more than an enjoyable romp through Black Sabbath’s major works. The influences are still there in the chugging bass riffs, but frontman Nick DiSalvo’s guitar can suddenly become ornate and melodic, riding the drums and bass like the foam on a rough sea.

Describing this as their billionth appearance at Loppen, the band clearly feel at home. And after two hours of waiting, the audience is fervently on their side. Beer splashes everywhere, and bassist Jack Donovan nearly beheads a few people in the front in his frenzy. A few obligatory technical glitches do little to dent the enthusiasm of either band or audience, and as the evening draws to a close, Elder proved they were definitely worth enduring the awful weather.

LIVE REVIEW: The Residents, Amager Bio, 09.02.16

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Photos by Amanda Farah

The Residents have remained a mystery for 40 years now, with a back-catalogue that makes the Fall look like lazy in comparison. Their appearance is always an event, gathering together misfits of all ages and backgrounds, and today it is preceded by an interview at the Main Library. Three masked figures, two of them looking not altogether dissimilar to the Spirit of Jazz from the Mighty Boosh, sit menacingly in the candlelight as their spokesperson answers questions with witty evasions.

The three weirdos looming over this conversation are known Randy, Chuck and Bob, and the album they are presenting, “Shadowlands”, is the last in a trilogy they have named after themselves. After the departure of “Carlos”–ostensibly to run a chicken farm in Mexico (the spokesperson assures us it is “more of a metaphorical chicken farm”–the band began to attach names to themselves, replacing the obscurity of anonymity with that of personal narratives.

There is definitely some kind of narrative at work at their concert, where old re-worked favourites like “Constantinople” and “Blue Rosebud” are intercut with video segments. This is not so much a retrospective as a re-presentation of material which has always sounded outside of its own time. The sound can sometimes veer towards the cheesy–particularly with the tinny, hyper-effected guitar solos–but if anything this heightens the weirdness, highlights just how out of place the band really is.

With a backdrop of optical illusions and a looming giant balloon that functions as projector screen, the band’s bizarre outfits pop out with such hyper-reality that you might convince yourself that they themselves are illusions. To some extent, of course, that is true. You’ll notice, for example, that the figure of ‘Randy’, half crazed scientist, half psychopathic magician, is considerably more portly on stage than he was during the pre-show interview. Many internet theorists posit that the man hollering on stage is in fact the same Homer Flynn that presented himself as “spokesperson” for the band only an hour ago.

But that is an altogether too probable explanation. If you need to speculate as to who the Residents really are, you are better off going for the wildly improbable (I have heard everyone from David Byrne and Paul McCartney). You could pin them down, categorize them, name them, but then what would remain?

LIVE REVIEW: Julia Holter, Vega, 04.11.2015

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Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh

It’s fair to say that Julia Holter has become something of a contemporary cult figure for the Here Today staff. In fact, checking the side bar on Spotify, I can see that at the moment of writing at least three friends are listening to her. But what is it that hooks us? From the insular minimalism of Ekstasis, via the disquieting swirls of Loud City Song, and finally to the harpsichord-dominated psych-pop of her latest album, Have You In My Wilderness, the L.A. singer-songwriter is hard to pin down to anything other than her voracious and sparkling personality.*

If you have only accessed Holter through her records, her live presence will come as a surprise. No mystery, no ominous lighting, just a cheery young woman with a mass of thick hair and a laid-back band. For this tour Holter is joined by a bassist, a violist and a wise-cracking drummer. The use of strings lends quite a different effect from last time I saw her, when she was accompanied by a small but brash brass section (making the song “Horns Surrounding Me” almost literal). Which is not to say that the set is all airy-fairy sweetness, but rather that this evening discord is sown slowly and suggestively, rather than forcefully.

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After some initial technical difficulty, the band begins with a song “about dying on an island,” as Holter herself puts it. The song in question, “Lucette Stranded on the Island”, is full of quiet, lush melancholy, showcasing the band at their sweetest. No matter how dark the subject matter might be, Have You In My Wilderness is without a doubt the brightest of Holter’s work, epitomized by the bobbing bass line and drums of “Feel You” (which, we are reminded, does not sound completely unlike the word “failure”).

There are other moments of brilliant dynamism, particularly on the song “Horns Surrounding Me”. Though the horns in question are nowhere to be found, the ominous, driving piano riff does a good enough job of evoking the paranoid desire to run away. As the drums pick up on the alternate beat to the piano, the pace seems to increase, and the viola starts to wail. But the real highlight of the evening is “Marienbad”, with its haunting opening arpeggio and medieval-sounding vocal harmonies. There is an escapist element to all Holter’s music, albeit an escape into something disquieting, but the minimalism of this song seems to highlight the space in the room. Have we escaped back into the present?

*Yes, I am aware that she has released records prior to Ekstasis

Our gig picks this week

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“Hey guys, any good concerts this week?” You bet. As the days get darker and colder the gigs keep piling up. To help you sort out your musical priorities, we’ve come up with our recommendations for the next five days.

Wednesday, November 4

Julia Holter, Vega

Always a favourite at Here Today, Julia Holter’s latest release, Have You In My Wilderness has received universal acclaim. If your dream hangout spot is the Road House from Twin Peaks, welcome to your new musical obsession.

Thursday, November 5

The Prodigy, Tap1

Do we really need to tell you why the Prodigy are worth seeing? Weren’t you around when the video for “Firestarter” was playing everywhere? Jeez, live a little.

Shilpa Ray, Loppen

If you haven’t already shaved the top of your head and colored the remaining hair green in tribute to the Prodigy, you can opt for a more quiet evening with Shilpa Ray, who did this wonderful duet with Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.

Friday, November 6

Chelsea Wolfe, Loppen

The dark queen of doom folk is back again with Abyss. Halloween really isn’t over till Chelsea’s passed through town.

Mercury Rev, Koncerthuset

These indie heroes of the 80s and 90s are still going strong with their newly release The Light in You.

James Chance and the Contortions, Jazzhouse

NY NO WAVE! KILL YR IDOLS! God knows how or why they are still playing, but how can you not be into a little contortion?

Saturday, November 7

Put on your best canadian tuxedo and point your Mustang south towards Amager Bio for longhaired-wonder Kurt Vile.

(If you are in Århus you will have the chance to experience Kurt Vile at Voxhall on the 4. of November.)

Kuku and Blixa Bargeld, Jazzhouse

Honestly I can’t think of many reasons why you wouldn’t want to see Blixa Bargeld doing anything, anywhere. Just the other day I watched a video of him making risotto on German tv. Worth it.

Sunday, November 8

Son Lux, Lille Vega

No one goes wild on a Sunday, so why not chill with Son Lux instead? Also, is this what people mean by chamber pop?

Thurston Moore, Store Vega

Or else head round the corner to Vega’s larger venue and check out Sonic Youth-founder Thurston Moore. Then again I haven’t read Kim Gordon’s autobiography yet so I dunno whether I’m supposed to be ok with him or not.

Patty Waters, Jazzhouse

Believe it or not, Jazzhouse does actually host jazz gigs every now and then. “Priestess of the avant-garde” should be all the endorsement this jazz innovator needs. Jazz (and did I mention jazz?)

 

LIVE REVIEW: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Den Grå Hal, 02.11.15

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor

The last time Godspeed You! Black Emperor played in Copenhagen we were seated in plush velvet theatre seats, trying to reconcile their apocalyptic symphonies with the bright lights and cheer of Tivoli outside. But tonight the venue is much more appropriate. The wooden roof of Christiania’s Den Grå Hal towers above us, the air is chilly, and the nauseating smell of burnt sugar is thankfully absent.

The evening starts with the looping guitar drones of Bhutanese musician Tashi Dorji. Hunched over his instrument, face obscured by a black hoodie, Dorji abuses the strings into producing a wall of sound that grows to painful levels. Several audience members retreat outside to smoke and save their eardrums for the main event.

Tashi Dorji

After the slow initial buildup of “Hope Drone”, GY!BE immediately settle nerves by launching into the first two movements of “Storm”: never fear, ladies and gentlemen, we will not be denied the classics. You can tell by the nods people give each other at the beginning of each song that albums like Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven! and F#a#infinity are deeply ingrained since adolescence, but when GY!BE play one doesn’t have so much the sense of reliving younger days, but of tapping back into something that always felt timeless.

The middle section of the performance is taken up by the full playthrough of the band’s latest album, Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress, which features some surprisingly upbeat sections. The first, “Peasantry or ‘Light! Inside of Light!'”, for all its initial stoner-rock plodding, eventually starts to sound not entirely unlike a weird, drone-y performance of “Norwegian Wood”. Try listening to them back to back, you’ll see. In quieter moments, such as “Lambs’ Breath”, your eyes are drawn up to the projections behind the band. Possibly the only band in the world to have their own dedicated projectionist, GY!BE are illuminated by loops of grainy 16mm footage. A lonely stag on a dark road, fields of corn, Revivalist churches, cop cars, factories on fire.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

People my age have grown up in an era obsessed with post-apocalypical stories, but when someone uses that word, I never think of Mad Max, or The Road, or zombie movies, but rather the cover of F#a#infinity. And as the band  concludes its two-hour set with “The Sad Mafioso” section of “East Hastings”, it seems obvious that for many of us these aren’t allegorical warnings, but perversely exciting possibilities.

LIVE REVIEW: Young Fathers, Loppen, 16.10.15

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Young Fathers

A wry smile crosses G Hastings’s face as he leans into the mic and observes “I’ve never been tear gassed before a gig before.” It’s probably fair to say that for most of us in the audience at Loppen this also is the first time. While a police raid on Christiania continues into Friday night, the venue begins to feel like a refuge, but Young Fathers are not a band to make us forget the burning makeshift barricades in the street outside.

The Edinburgh-based trio burst into the limelight after winning the Mercury Award for their album Dead, quickly following it up with this year’s White Men Are Black Men Too. But no matter how much praise their records receive, it is immediately obvious that Young Fathers are primarily a live band. While a drummer flails his limbs wildly along with the distorted synth lines, the trio rap, scream and croon with a rare intensity.

The first half of the set draws mainly from the band’s most energetic, uncompromising material. Songs like “Rumbling”, “Just Another Bullet” and “Old Rock n Roll” seem to justify the hip-hop tag that often gets bandied around, but their energy derives from the lo-fi simplicity, rather than samples and complex beats. The defining feature of Young Fathers is the interplay between the vocal styles: G Hastings’s howls and screams, Kayus Bankole’s violent rhymes and Alloysious Massaquoi’s more soulful side.

Young Fathers
Photo by Amanda Farah

From the far-left of the stage my main view is of Kayus Bankole, his purple shirt drenched in sweat, gazing intently into the crowd. This power of the band’s presence, their attention to what is going on around them. You can see it in Bankole’s eyes, hear it when Hastings speaks in support of migrants, or else when they gently discourage people from moshing. To many that last part sounds like the words of a kill-joy, but really this is a battle that has gone on since Ian MacKaye’s passionate disavowal of mosh pits during the hay-day of 80s DC hardcore. But whereas MacKaye could sound a little holier-than-thou, tonight Hastings manages to discourage annoyingly violence dance moves with a gentle firmness that instantly quells the crowd. Gigs are for everyone, not just jumped up meatheads.

It feels a bit perverse to claim that the highlight of the gig is the final a cappella song, given how rhythmically exhilarating the band can be, but I stand by it. Because it proves the thesis that this band is driven by three unique and urgent voices.

LIVE REVIEW: HEALTH, Pumpehuset, 12.10.15

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Photos by Tom Spray (www.tom-spray.com)

Defining HEALTH in 2015 is not as easy as it once was. On their first two records the band mixed the cold synth noise of peers like Crystal Castles with mathematically precise drumming and razor-blade guitar riffs. But chatting backstage with bassist John Famiglietti, it is evident that he is just as enthusiastic talking about Daft Punk as he is Mudhoney. And their latest album, Death Magic, released a full six years after their sophomore effort, is evidence of that bridging interest in both pop and experimental music.

Throughout Death Magic, though it veers between blasts of noise and calculatedly danceable tracks, there is a common thread, a pessimistic gaze that finds nothing to separate mainstream and alternative. And when you consider that the hits of today include the disaffected moroseness of the likes of the Weeknd, or witness Miley Cyrus’s doomed attempt at edginess, it isn’t hard to be convinced that we are living in an uncomfortable yet fascinating transition period where words like “pop” and “indie” express mere quantitative, rather than qualitative, differences.

DSC_6455

And yet, tonight I do hear a difference. HEALTH’s live sets are well known for their energy and abandon, the band carefully planning out the setlist to maintain peak attention. They scramble in between songs to minimize the gaps, tearing through the set at a blistering pace. Songs are cut off as soon as they risk losing steam, at times reprised later in the set. But in spite of all this amazing display of dedication towards the craft of live performance, it is very easy to pick out the old HEALTH from the new. New tracks like “MEN TODAY” and “NEW COKE” (note: HEALTH are dedicated to the art of caps-lock) still thunder with a violent obsession that borders on grind-core, but there are heartbreaking moments when drummer BJ Miller starts playing a four-to-the-floor disco beat (see “LIFE”) and it all threatens to fall apart at the seams.

What you discover listening to HEALTH today is that their most interesting associations with pop music have absolutely nothing to do with their lately-acquired Depeche Mode pretensions. It is rather in the fact that their moments of drum madness and feedback loops bring to mind Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead” rather than Crystal Castles. Pop music has sporadically moved closer to the experimental, with greater results than the inverse move. It is true that the topic uncovers a cultural divide between the US and Europe, where we tend to be much more staunchly divisive. But one only has to hear the band tear through a bleeding-edge rendition of “We Are Water” to be reminded why we should still allow HEALTH the benefit of the doubt. A band that can make a track like that sound as urgent as the first time we heard it might still go on to do great things.

DSC_6388

LIVE REVIEW: Einstürzende Neubauten, DR Koncerthuset, 19.09.2015

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Einstürzende Neubauten (photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh / mortenkrogh.com)

Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

Once known for drilling holes through the floors of venues with their power tools/instruments, it is at first an odd notion to encounter Einstürzende Neubauten in the wood-panelled pomp of DR’s Koncerthuset. Yet the acoustical properties boasted by the venue, as well as the circular seating plan, make it the perfect place to experience the performance of a piece as singular and theatrical as Lament.

During the first year of the centenary of the First World War we all witnessed various attempts to commemorate events that remain baffling despite their continued influence throughout history. Last year saw two Flemish towns commission ambitious musical pieces from left-field bands. The In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres sought Tindersticks to create a brooding string piece pockmarked with dolorous bells. With Ypres the band evoked the huge, blank austerity of memory, a musical equivalent to architectural pieces like the Cenotaph in London. The town of Diksmuide, on the other hand, decided upon a very different course, opting for these German industrial heroes, Neubauten (it bares reminding that their name translates to “Collapsing New Buildings”, though perhaps on this occasion Old Buildings might be more appropriate).

The resulting performance piece, which was then recorded as an album, draws heavily both on historical research and the band’s own musical influences in the 20th century avant-garde. The stage of Koncerthuset is dominated by large sheets of metal, piping and chains. A barbed-wire harp lurks in the back. Backstage are instruments made out of empty artillery shells and period crutches. The orchestra is penned in the middle of the stage, as if to say: “there is a space for conventional pathos, but only when confronted with something more alien.”

Einstürzende Neubauten (photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh / mortenkrogh.com)

The opening piece, “Kriegsmaschinerie”, lives up to its title, a drawn out wail of metal scraping against metal, chains falling and drills boring into sheets of steel. Frontman Blixa Bargeld stands in the centre, conveying his lyrics not in song but with the means of large placards: “War does not break out. It waits/For a singular but thousandfold:/Hurrah.” This is at once the absolute essence of Neubauten, the punk musique concrète they are famous for, but also a clear reference to one of the defining artistic movements during that war, Futurism. The ad-hoc instruments evoke Luigi Russolo’s “Intonarumori” sonic sculptures, whereas the placards evoke the tone, if not exactly the content, of the belligerent poems of F.T. Marinetti. But even with eyes closed the cacophony is startling, dramatic, strangely pleasurable. The apex of metal screeching, accompanied by the rising wails of strings, is less oppressive than invigorating, a reminder that to some war embodied the possibility of sublime aesthetic overload (they would, to paraphrase Ezra Pound, learn later).

As a whole Lament succeeds as a piece that uses the First World War not only for its subject but for its materials. Its methods are those of Dada, Futurism, artistic currents born precisely in those years. The second piece, “Hymnen” exemplifies this: the melody is that of the British Anthem, which, it turns out, was the same used for the anthem of the German Empire, “Heil dir im Siegerkranz”, while the text is a mashup of the two anthems, interspersed with satirical lyrics by Heinrich Hoffman. One often hears in documentaries about how before WWI Britain and Germany thought of themselves as similar, but here this becomes immediately, absurdly, apparent.

In spite of such bleak subject matter, there is a subversive humour to Neubaten’s work that manages to appeal both to the senses and intellect of its audience. “The Willy – Nicky Telegrams” sees bassist Alex Hacke impersonate Tzar Nicholas of Russia, with Bargeld playing the part of Kaiser Wilhelm, singing (with autotune) the telegrams between the two cousin-monarchs. The autotune lends a further ridiculousness to their nicknames for one another, a sense of farce that two such people should be in charge of nations, and a note of insincerity in their professions of affection. Announcing the beginning of “Der 1.Weltkrieg (Percussion Version)”, Bargeld explains that every beat in the piece represents one day of the war. A hushed silence of anticipation is then broken when he remarks “You should be thankful we didn’t write this about the 30 Years’ War.” It’s a funny aside, but it also reveals the depth to which Bargeld and his bandmates have steeped themselves in research, to remind us that although the conflict of 1914-18 might have been the first of the World Wars, it was just one of many enormous European wars.

Einstürzende Neubauten (photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh / mortenkrogh.com)

In the introduction to his unparalleled prose-poem on the First World War, In Parenthesis, David Jones speaks of his work as an attempt to “make a shape in words, using as data the complex of sights, sounds, fears, hopes, apprehensions, smells, things exterior and interior, the landscape and paraphernalia of that singular time and of those particular men.” That text itself is a collage of the trench songs, jokes, army drills and ancient Welsh epics, that manage to capture the pity, absurdity, boredom and even the strange and terrible beauty of the experience of war. “At no other time,” Jones claims, “did one so much live with a consciousness of the past, both superficially and more subtly.”

Neubauten do not presume to adopt the point of view of experience, but they do employ many of the techniques and concerns of a writer like Jones, one of the very few British Modernists to have taken active part in the war. In an effort to convey the diversity of the belligerents, Lament’s texts are in German, English, Flemish (“In de Loopgraf”), and though their music might evoke the real sounds of war, their perspective is one of detachment, looking at WWI in the context of past and future events. A piece like “Der 1.Weltkrieg” illustrates how distance can evoke a different kind of pathos, making us experience the time-scale of the war, as a endless list of painful days, whereas the cover of “Sag mir wo die Blumen sind”, the German version of Pete Seeger’s “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”, references both the symbol of the soldier as flower and the continuum between First and Second World Wars in the figure of Marlene Dietrich.

Einstürzende Neubauten (photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh / mortenkrogh.com)

The most interesting covers, however, are to be found in the middle and end of Lament. “On Patrol in No Man’s Land” and “All of No Man’s Land Is Ours” by the The Harlem Hellfighters—a black US regiment forced to serve under the French because of racial segregation—are perfectly chosen examples of some of the great ironies and oddities of the First World War. Originally written and performed by the soldiers whose deeds they catalogue, the humour of these songs is both biting and a testament to their incomprehensible strength. The tracks are stripped back, with none of the swing of the originals, and replace the chanted booms and bangs with actual ones. Bassist Hacke sings the first with a bravado that gives a good sense of the original, whereas Bargeld’s performance of the second lends a sad irony to the words “at last I’m home”, conveying the relief of escaping the war interspersed with the sadness of returning to segregation.

The evening ends with a couple of recent Neubauten songs, the haunting “Ich Gehe Jeztz” and the bombastic “Let’s Do It A Dada”. The latter, with its references to Dada and the apocryphal story of the chess game in Zurich between Lenin and the poet Tristran Tzara, stands as proof that despite Bargeld’s protestations of not having thought about the First World War before composing Lament, the war has always been a part of the band, if only in the figures of the artists that survived and reacted to it.

LIVE REVIEW: Future Islands, Store Vega, 16.08.2015

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Photos by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

There is a triumphant quality to Future Islands’ entrance on stage of tonight. Selling out two back-to-back shows at Store Vega might not be the ultimate indicator of a band’s success, but when they have previously been relegated to the venue’s smaller cousin for most of their career, it stands as a reminder of how much the band has achieved in the last two years.

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Having recently celebrated their 1000th concert–and toured their last album, Singles, for more than a year–, the band are in a slightly nostalgic mood. Interspersed with the big crowd pleasers like “Seasons (Waiting on You)” and “A Dream of You and Me” are a wealth of songs from their back-catalogue, including some that haven’t been played for several years. “An Apology”, with its delicate synth riff and trademark impassioned vocals, stands out as a reminder that, though most of us hadn’t heard of Future Islands before the success of Singles, the band has been releasing consistently brilliant pieces of left-field synth-pop since 2008.

Future Islands-1994

Frontman Sam Herring’s vocal and physical performances have been the main talking point around Future Islands since that Letterman performance in early 2014, but when viewed in the flesh his idiosyncrasies become even more apparent. Breaking into a torrent of sweat by the first chorus of opener “Give Us the Wind”, Herring flails his arms, beats his chest, makes impassioned but gnomic gestures. Caught in the enthusiasm of performance, his soul-infused crooning switches more and more into guttural Death Metal howls.
Future Islands-1962-4

It is a rare thing to see a crowd this impassioned, so genuinely excited that they whoop and cheer whenever Herring waves an arm or reverts to his notorious dad-dance. During “Spirit” the floor is vibrating at a frequency that threatens to plunge us all into the venue’s foyer. That’s why Future Islands can sell out on Saturday and Sunday, and probably the rest of the week for that matter.

View the photos from the concert with Future Islands here

LIVE REVIEW: Belle & Sebastian, Tivoli, 31.07.2015

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Photos by Amanda Farah

“This was a good idea, eh? Someone had a good idea.” Gazing out into the coloured lights of Tivoli, and beyond them, the blue moon rising into view, Belle & Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch is in a jolly mood. The Glasgow indie-pop legends appear to have adopted Copenhagen as their mid-tour break spot of choice, and as they tell it, the grassy spots of Assistens Cemetery are the spiritual homeland for all things whimsical and twee.

In spite of their reputation for low-key chamber pop, the band’s latest release Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance veers in the opposite direction, towards something more danceable and extroverted. Certainly they have pulled out all the stops for this tour, cramming thirteen people on stage and peppering their set with little video interludes and slickly-produced projections. At times this veers into almost ridiculous territory, especially during the day-glo disco excess of “The Party Line”, but this is tempered by vision of Stuart bouncing around the stage in high-waisted jeans and a turtleneck.

Photo by Amanda Farah
Photo by Amanda Farah

As with any band with almost two decades of work behind them, Belle & Sebastian have to balance their new material with an impressive backlog of indie hits. But surprisingly, some of the most memorable moments of the evening occur during songs from Girls in Peacetime. The Talking Heads-channeling “Perfect Couples” promises to be a live highlight for years go come, aided by Stevie Jackson’s ad-hoc monologue including gems such as (to be read in a Glaswegian accent):

“Girls on bikes, we see a lot of that round here, we dig it”;

[on the subject of the tv show Borgen] “Have you seen it? Lovely interiors, best lampshades I’ve ever seen… But what do you want from me, I’m middle-aged.”

Photo by Amanda Farah
Photo by Amanda Farah

Keen to include their audience in as many ways as possible, Stevie and Stuart serenade a young Swedish woman with “Jonathan David”, before inviting twenty fans to participate in the traditional stage invasion/dance-along to “The Boy with the Arab Strap”. Everyone is invited to join the band for meditation and a canal tour on the following day, no doubt causing packs of oddly-coiffed skinny boys to desperately roam the city all of Saturday. Because no matter how big the venue, no matter how elaborate the stage set-up, Belle & Sebastian will always be the band for lazy book-readers and tea-sippers, the last vanguard of the quietest revolution.

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