Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

Category archive

Live Reviews - page 2

LIVE REVIEW: Cherry Glazerr, Ideal Bar, 11.04.2019

in Live Reviews by
Clementine Creevy of Cherry Glazerr live at Ideal Bar in Copenhagen

The dreams of the 90s are alive at Ideal Bar for Cherry Glazerr. The LA band, playing as a trio, are at the vanguard of 90s alt-rock revivalism. The audience are playing along, kitted out in a confusing assortment of retro fashions including but not limited to camisole dresses over t-shirts, hoop earrings in one ear, platform shoes, and pleather. 

The show was downsized from Lille Vega, which is only evident in the six-foot inflatable cherries stuffed at the back of the stage out of range of the lights. But this space feels right; there is a row of university-aged women lining the stage, losing their minds, dancing and singing throughout the set. The costuming of the audience further lends itself to the idea that this was somehow a secret, that only the kids from the counter-culture knew to come out for.

But it isn’t so esoteric as all that. Cherry Glazerr are a high energy rock band and they’re fun. Central to this fact is that frontwoman Clementine Creevy is a damn rockstar. She’s tossing her feathered blonde hair around, evoking the Runaway’s Cherie Currie. She bops and dinosaur walks around the stage throughout the set, feeding off the energy locked in around her.

The only time the band slow enough to catch their breath is to play “Grilled Cheese” and “Teenage Girl” from their debut album. While these older songs demonstrate how much tighter Creevy’s songwriting has gotten, the fact that the old songs are being played means the devotees in the front row are going crazy.

The one drawback of the evening is that Creevy’s vocals are almost non-existent. It’s not as though they dominate her albums, they are swallowed up despite the fact that the band isn’t playing especially loud. Creevy seems unbothered by this, so we can conclude that it’s a conscious if curious choice — she is, after all, a talented lyricist.

This choice does, however, work well for “Stupid Fish,” the end of the main set. The thin vocals from the album are swamped by the chugging rhythm of the song, which gets dragged out and mutated over the minutes. It’s more interesting for being a product of its environment, letting a song with heavy tone also get swept up in the fun of the evening.

LIVE REVIEW: The Mekons, Alice, 09.04.2019

in Blog/Live Reviews by
Mekons live at Alice in Copenhagen

Looking at the Mekons tonight, you might take them for the kind of band that tours English corn exchanges covering Fairport Convention and the Stranglers. The eight of them shuffle on stage good-naturedly, and almost immediately call for gaffer tape to fix an according strap. But no, almost immediately the cover is blown.

The Mekons aren’t a bunch of nice old-timers (although in fairness they do seem lovely), they are something of a living miracle: a punk band that has survived, endured and flourished for over forty years. From the classroom punk of their 1979 debut they have explored everything from sparse post-punkEnglish folk, country and western, and reggae; they have spread from Leeds to Chicago, collaborated with Kathy Acker, and continue to produce music with humour and bite.

Tonight is ample proof of this, a mix of material from their latest album, Deserted, as well some classic Mekons barnstormers. These merge well together, not because it all sounds the same, but conversely because variety has always been an essential element of the band.

Jon Langford and Sally Tims and Tom Greenhalgh share the main vocal duties amongst themselves (one of the interesting things about the Mekons is in fact how these different voices feel so consistent across their work). The folk elements are provided by Susie Honeyman on the fiddle, Rico Bell on according and Lu Edmonds (also of The Damned and Public Image Ltd) on saz duties, while Steve Goulding (hear him in Elvis Costello’s “Watching the Detectives”!) hits the skins.

My ears are still ringing a little from standing too close to the stage, but what is a little tinnitus compared to the one-two punch of “Ghosts of American Astronauts” and “Hard to be Human Again”?

LIVE REVIEW: Laura Gibson, Ideal Bar, 03.04.2019

in Live Reviews by
Laura Gibon live at Ideal Bar Copenhagen

Of the many ways we can pigeonhole singer-songwriters — as country artists, hippies, coffee shop folkies — Laura Gibson manages to just skirt around all of them. The folk base of most of her songs is, on the albums, often mitigated by arrangements of varying complexity. When playing live, she makes her efforts to maintain that thoughtfulness by backing up her acoustic guitar or electric piano with a backing vocalist/violinist/pianist. 

But it’s who Gibson is between songs that defines her as a performer. She teases about her songs being melancholic. She tells long stories about train rides and her failed high school musical theatre career. She drinks from a yellow metal water bottle and then informs the audience, “I just made some music for this water bottle company. I’m pretty happy with the swag I got.”

Her personality is a wonderful counterpoint to the seriousness of her songs, the heartbreak, the feelings of alienation. She isn’t overly precious about her work, and it makes her all the easier to identify with. But when she describes the title track of her latest album, Goners, as having started life as a show tune, it doesn’t make it less lovely or wistful. 

Gibson proves how captivating she can be as she leads the audience in singing a gentle “ooh ooh” as a backing track to her own a cappella — a moment somewhat marred by the gig in Store Vega making the bottles on the shelves behind the bar rattle. But when the average artist struggles to get an odd chorus out of an audience, never mind a half-filled club, sustaining a singalong for a whole song is quite a feat. And joining the ranks of those who resist phoney encores, she sets us up in advance to know that we should make our singalong count; touching on the hippie, the coffee shop, but through and through, she’s a performer.

LIVE REVIEW: Tashi Wada Group with Man Forever, Alice, 27.03.2019

in Live Reviews by
Tashi Wada Group with Julia Holter and Corey Fogel, live at Alice Copenhagen

There is a level of unpredictability when going to see any performance that could be described as “avant garde” or fall into the category of drone. And while Tashi Wada is a composer and his group are playing the songs of his latest album, Nue, there is still a healthy amount of the unexpected throughout the evening.

The evening opens with the fortuitous last-minute addition of Man Forever. Kid Millions — also of Oneida and myriad other projects — uses his solo outing to tell the story of the car accident he was in a year ago. The spoken word portion of the set is fitted between drum fills and leads into his song “A Clear Realization.” For someone who sustained two broken ribs, a chipped vertebra in his neck, and an impact injury to his lower back, his playing is not only as mesmerizing as ever, it’s absolutely extraordinary.

Man Forever live at Alice in Copenhagen

Wada is joined by the powerhouse backing band of Julia Holter on piano, synths, and vocals and Corey Fogel on drums and an assortment of bells, gongs, and chimes. Fogel is a master of restraint throughout the set; most of the drums and gongs are hit with mallets, sending a muffled rumble coursing through the songs.

Holter is also more subdued than we are accustomed to seeing her as a solo performer. Her piano lines are often a whisper and her vocals are muted and wordless, mostly there to soften the mechanical whine they float over. It isn’t a wonder that, with such reserve from the band, the audience is dead quiet, not even daring to applaud between the abrupt shifts in songs.

It is surprising that, in a set in which personalities are withholding, Wada has become the dominant personality from his post in the shadows. Wada makes himself known in his haunted house synths and the way he makes bagpipes buzzy rather than whiny. The weird universe he has created around himself for the evening is peaceful and maybe a little camp, but it’s a step away from the familiar. It’s a recontextualization of familiar faces and familiar sounds. It’s lightness and stimulus tumbling over each other in between the silences. 

LIVE REVIEW: Steve Gunn, Loppen, 22.03.2019

in Blog/Live Reviews by
Steve Gunn live at Loppen, Copenhagen

Steve Gunn is an incredibly prolific singer-songwriter and guitarist who straddles a hazy dividing line between indie rock and the American primitivism of John Fahey, Robbie Basho and Sandy Bull.

He first came to my attention in 2016 with Eyes on the Lines, particularly in the driving opener “Ancient Jules”, which has that rare mix of rock instrumentation with folk riffs in the vein of Richard Thompson’s “Roll Over Vaughan Williams”. But Gunn has been producing a steady album per year since 2007. This last one though, The Unseen in Between, comes with a delay of almost three years, which might account for the crowd and air of anticipation in Loppen tonight.

Known mainly for his fingerpicking style, Gunn is joined on stage by a full band, including a lead guitarist with a deep attachment to his fuzz pedal, which brings out the more psych-rock elements of the music, particularly in their closing jam.

“New Moon” has a dreamy, 60s shimmer to it, although its resemblance to Them’s cover of “It’s All Over, Baby Blue” ends up reminding me much more of Beck’s “Jackass”. There is less overt post-modernism to Steve Gunn’s approach to Americana, but he is equally unconcerned with sounding overtly “vintage”.

That being said, the standout moment will probably remain Gunn’s solo acoustic piece that opens his encore, a moment of fingerpicking mastery that will more than suffice for those of us far too young to have heard the masters on anything other than mp3s.

LIVE REVIEW: This Is Not This Heat, Alice, 06.03.2019

in Blog/Live Reviews by
This is Not This Heat live at Alice Copenhagen for CPH:DOX

Over the years the years we’ve seen a few bands we never expected to be able to see live, but few have been quite as unexpected as This Heat. But that’s not quite right, as the poster proudly proclaims: this, in fact, is This Is Not This Heat. Or is it? Of the six people crammed together on stage, only two represent the original line-up, bassist (and, according to his obituary, Rough Guide author) Gareth Williams having passed away in 2001.

This is the first of two nights at Alice, the first dedicated to the recordings of This Heat, and the second to soundtrack work. Tonight guitarist Charles Bullen and drummer Charles Hayward are joined by Daniel O’Sullivan (of Grumbling Fur, Laniakea, Guapo, Æthenor, etc. etc) on bass and synths, looking remarkably youthful next to his gaunt elders, as well as an extra drummer, guitarist and a distorted clarinet (for Roxy Music kudos).

The first portion of the set is pretty much the exact tracklist from their self-titled debut, full of sparse, cold instrumentation and plaintive chants. It almost makes you wonder for a while why two drumkits are necessary. But the songs from Deceit answer that question with proto-industrial fervour. At the first frantic chord of “SPQR” a group of teenagers in the first row cheer and do shots, which is as baffling as it is cute.

Although This Heat are often lumped together with post-punk, you can clearly hear a lot of Robert Wyatt in the plaintive vocals of “Not Waving” and “The Fall of Siam”, a certain weird Englishness that reveals in the influence of The Soft Machine and Gabriel-era Genesis under the obvious Krautrock and musique-concrete references.

It is these moments of detached weirdness, more than the guitar-driven noise, that make This Heat a band still worth listening to and seeing after all these years.

LIVE REVIEW: Aïsha Devi, Alice, 08.02.2019

in Live Reviews by
Aïsha Devi live at Alice Copenhagen

Although some might have first heard of Swiss-Nepalese producer Aïsha Devi because of the trippy video to 2015’s “Mazdâ”, for most of us it has been the buzz surrounding last year’s DNA Feelings that has propelled her to the attention of the world outside of experimental electronics.

Aïsha Devi live at Alice Copenhagen

Relying on relatively sparse and cold synth backgrounds and her own slightly eery, high-pitched vocals, Aïsha Devi’s music has many of the qualities of artists who have broken through into much wider recognition, particularly Arca. But it remains to be see whether the kitschy approach to spirituality that is on display in her visuals will be ultimately seen as a calling card or a gimmick.

Aïsha Devi live at Alice Copenhagen

One thing that’s certain in a live setting is that Devi’s music has a much louder, confrontational quality than what you’ll hear in her recordings. Paradoxically though, her own stage persona, as testified in the pictures above, is completely joyful.

Aïsha Devi live at Alice Copenhagen

This evening at Alice she is joined by the US-based DJ bod [包家巷], whose angry reaction to the lack of dancing at 9pm is made all the more hilarious by the ambient music that follows the initial trap tracks. Concluding the evening are local boys, inexplicably-named Age Coin.

LIVE REVIEW: Alasdair Roberts + Völvur, Alice, 09.02.2019

in Live Reviews by
Alasdair Roberts and Völvur live at Christianshavn Beboerhus in Copenhagen

Scottish folk singer Alasdair Roberts has been recording music for two decades now. A quick look at his back-catalogue proves Roberts’s dedication to the traditions of British folk music (his takes on “A Lyke Wake Dirge”, “Lord Ronald” and Shirley Collins’s ” A Blacksmith Courted Me” are all well worth a listen), but it also reveals his willingness to use collaboration as a way of repurposing this material.

Most of these collaborations so far have been with one or two people, the most recent being last year’s much-acclaimed What News, alongside producer Amble Skuse and pianist David McGuiness. But tonight, in the cozy surroundings of Christianshavns Beboerhus, Roberts is joined by five Norwegian improvisational musicians, headed by violinist Hans Kjorstad.

Although all very young, this group has a respectable pedigree of its own in Norway, playing in a frankly intimidating number of ensembles and collaborations in everything from folk to noise music. Tonight they are bringing strings, clarinets, guitars, a double bass, electronics and a lot of percussion to Roberts’s typically more sparse music.

The result can be at times incredibly warm and lush, especially the woodwinds on “Wormwood and Gall”, and at others, for example “A Lyke Wake Dirge”, darkly hypnotic. Alasdair Roberts’s simple but beguiling vocal delivery cuts through the instrumentation and makes sure we remain grounded in the words of the songs.

Due to the cancellation on the part of the opening act, the band agree to play two sets, much to the delight of the audience lazing on mats strewn around the theatre floor. Although most of both sets is taken from Roberts’s own catalogue, we are also treated to a new composition by the entire group, “Actors”, as well as covers from the Incredible String Band’s “My Name is Death” and “Chinese White”.

The final flourish is a solo vocal rendition of a Robert Burns song, a final farewell before Alasdair and the band conclude their short Scandinavian tour on the island of Fanø.

LIVE REVIEW: Anna von Hausswolff, Pumpehuset, 24.01.2019

in Live Reviews by
Anna von Hausswolff live at Pumpehuset Copenhagen

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.

LIVE REVIEW: Algiers, Hotel Cecil, 15.01.2019

in Live Reviews by
Algiers live at Hotel Cecil, Copenhagen

Atlanta four-piece Algiers have been making a name for themselves since their 2015 debut for their fiery energy and political lyrics. If you read about them in the music press, the ubiquity of the words “industrial” and “gospel” might have you imagining a cross between Einstürzende Neubauten and the Golden Gate Quartet. But of course that is total guff: this is fast-paced blues-inflected indie rock, with a few chains and distortion pedals thrown in for good measure.

Which is to say, fundamentally, that Algiers are a pretty fun night out. And although a rainy Tuesday in Copenhagen is not generally conducive to an energetic atmosphere, it doesn’t take long before bassist Ryan Mahan’s manic bouncing and vogueing starts to infect the audience.

If you were to watch them without hearing the unifying element of their music, you could easily imagine the four members of Algiers were in totally different bands playing at the same time: Mahan in some abrasive dance act; frontman Franklin James Fisher–in his bandana, skinny jeans and leather jacket–straight out of a blue-rock act; pin-striped guitarist Lee Tescher goes for the serious-faced noise act; and of course noughties indie-rockers will remember will remember drummer Matt Tong from Bloc Party.

Algiers live at Hotel Cecil, Copenhagen

What unites them is their energy and conviction: instruments are tossed aside with reckless abandon, choruses are chanted with a fury that renders the mics superfluous. Amid the pogoing and dancing, the night is punctuated by samples of speeches and lectures, which strike an oddly didactic tone, as if it were necessary to justify the fun with some Foucault quotes.

Combined with their interest in political theory, it’s not hard to see why Algiers have become critical darlings after the release of their second record, The Underside of Power. But two years have passed since that record, and tonight, as well as anthems like “Death March” and “The Underside of Power”, we are treated to some newly-written songs, angry and anthemic as ever.

Go to Top