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Anna von Hausswolff live at Pumpehuset Copenhagen

LIVE REVIEW: Anna von Hausswolff, Pumpehuset, 24.01.2019

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It’s a failing on our part that we haven’t seen Anna von Hausswolff play in three years. There has been ample opportunity at festivals or if we could be bothered to cross the Sound to Malmø, and we simply didn’t do it. So in our minds, von Hausswolff remained frozen in that performance at Jazzhouse (RIP) back in 2016 when things were strangely serene except for a sub-bass that made our intestines rattle.

Who can say how long we’ve been missing out on her performance as it is today, which is to say, far from serene. The main room at Pumpehuset has taken on a cavernous feel augmented by the 15 minutes of windblown sound effects that play before she comes out on stage.

The set opens with “The Truth, the Glow, the Fall,” and the effect is immediate. To hear her voice echo around the room is really quite extraordinary; her recordings are so dense and she smooths her vocals into the mix so softly that it comes as a shock to the system that her high notes have so much force behind them. Her backing band seem so dense and lush until she starts singing, then it suddenly seems like they’re exercising tremendous restraint.

Beyond the blare of her vocals, there’s a distinctive performance personality that von Hausswolff has developed since we saw her last. She no longer confines herself to behind her keys. Instead we see her dancing and thrashing about during the percussion-heavy interlude of “Ugly and Vengeful,” playing a 12-string guitar on “The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra,” and using her encore to wander through the crowd while singing her as-yet unreleased song “Gösta.” “Pomperipossa” sounds like a haunted house soundtrack with bouncy synths and ear piecing shrieks. People around us cover their ears as she stretches her vocals to their highest decibel. “Am I scaring you?” she wails. Yes! Absolutely! Give us more! While von Hausswolff is as connected to her performance as ever, it feels less like she’s in her own world and more like the audience is being brought along for a strange ride. 

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh.

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