Online music magazine based in Copenhagen, Denmark

Category archive

Live Reviews - page 3

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.

LIVE REVIEW: A Perfect Circle + Chelsea Wolfe, Forum, 12.12.2018

in Live Reviews by

Photos by Morten Aagard Krogh

Fourteen years after their last album, supergroup A Perfect Circle are back, and judging by the crowd at Forum tonight, they have been eagerly awaited. Their very late album, Eat the Elephant, reached number 1 in the US rock charts and earned what in internet circles is referred to as “generally favourable reviews”. Whatever that actually means, its enough to pack Forum on a Wednesday night.

After having largely seen her in small venues, it’s a revelation to see opener Chelsea Wolfe in a large setting, where her doom-laden songs and soaring voice have a chance to breathe. Given her current trajectory, we should see her as the main act at Forum-sized venue here within a year. 

A major theme of the night is just how much the sound has improved at the venue since the last time we visited, admittedly a couple of years ago now. APC sound incredibly crisp, testament to some truly impressive production values. The drums are all perfectly distinct, the snare in particular having a very pleasing thwack sound. 

The main portion of the sound space is devoted to Maynard James Kennan (him from Tool, as I am being constantly reminded) and his distinctive vocals. At times to night he seems to be channeling Dave Gahan at the cusp of Depeche Mode’s turn into stadium pop, but of course Kennan is hardly one for the limelight. He spends most of his time with his back to the audience, little more than a silhouette against a constantly evolving backdrop.

 The audience don’t to mind that, and of course the Tool-heads–who seem to comprise half the audience–would know to expect this anyway. Though the bulk of the set is taken from Eat the Elephant, there are plenty of singalongs and their distinctive cover songs. AC/DC’s “Dog Eat Dog” is surprisingly light-hearted for a typically angsty Keenan, but I must admit that I found their version of Nick Lowe’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” truly unforgivable. But as with much else, I appear to be a minority on this topic.

LIVE REVIEW: Peter Murphy – 40 years of Bauhaus, Store Vega, 11.12.2018

in Live Reviews by
Bauhaus

As the title of this show tells, this Tuesday night at Store Vega is all about nostalgia.
A look around while listening to the opening act Desert Mountain Tribe, shows an audience that has at least one thing in common:
They prefer to wear darker colors.
The supporting duo’s set of energetic, monotone and dark psych-rock culminating in an exhaustive and repetitive performance by the drummer is well received by the mature crowd. And after only a short moment, the main acts are entering the stage.
Peter Murphy, peacocking in a full beard, full make up and a dark, shiny jacket has teamed up with bass player David J, as one half of the original Bauhaus. As stand ins for the absent members is The Mission guitarist, Mark Gemini Thwaite and drummer Marc Slutsky.
As the show opens with the disturbing guitar riff of “Double Dare”, the opening song from the band’s 1980 debut album In the Flat Field. Most people in the audience is immediately drawn into the the atmosphere of what is by many considered the first goth records recorded. Adding the drums, functioning as both rhythm section as well as a backing melody, transcends the whole room within seconds, even before Murphy opens his mouth.

peter murphy bauhaus

While 61 year old Peter Murphy’s voice may have turned darker during the years he still masters his unique and dramatic vocal that has been his trademark in four decades, always combined with a theatrical mime show, highly influenced by a young David Bowie’s and early European dada avantgarde.
Thwaite’s guitar playing was an impressive imitation of Daniel Ash’ original work, yet still leaving room for his personal interpretations. And in combination with Peter Murphy’s beard and sufi dance, inspired by his years spend in Turkey, made most of the songs seem fresh and relevant.
As the concert developed, Peter Murphy was less tight in his performance and showed a bit more of a traditional rock’n’roll attitude, reaching out to the audience and even during “Nerves” promoting the audience to do hand claps.
This made the second half of the show loose a bit of momentum while at the same time the band also suffered a bit from a few sound issues.
As the band played their big hit “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” Murphy posed as Count Dracula on stage but even though the audience applauded it was perhaps the weakest part of the show. Fortunately the band managed to get back on track, playing “Kick in the Eye”, “Passion of Lovers”, “Dark Entries” and other classic songs a lot more convincing and after several extra songs ending the whole show with a perfect praise to David Bowie with another hit from the Bauhaus catalogue: “Ziggy Stardust”.

Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh (mortenkrogh.com)

LIVE REVIEW: Vashti Bunyan, Nørrebro Teater, 06.12.2018

in Live Reviews by
vashti bunyan live at nørrebro teatre copenhagen

In a genre of soothing singer-songwriters, folk legend Vashti Bunyan is particularly soothing. But if an evening at home with her records is a gentle way to ease your mind, then seeing her play live fills you with warmth and comfort in a way paralleled only by receiving a letter (yes letter, not email) from a friend when you need it most.

Part of this is down to the fact that, aside from being stripped back to just herself and her long time backing guitarist/vocalist Gareth Dickson, her performance is very faithful to her recordings. That unique timbre that makes her voice sound like falling through a cloud carries us through the evening. It’s familiar and consistent and still so unlike any of her contemporaries or imitators.

But part of what makes the evening so relaxing is that Bunyan is as much a storyteller between songs as she is in her lyrics. There are anecdotes to accompany each song, whether it’s a tale from the 60s or reflections that inspired her more recent work, all filled with laughter. Some of these stories bring unique insight to her music; it’s hard not to hear the Beach Boys reference in “I’d Like to Take a Walk Through Your Mind” after learning that she wrote it when Andrew Loog Oldham told her to write a song combining Tim Hardin, the Mamas and the Papas, and Pet Sounds. And there’s also triumph of the spirit as Bunyan recounts her long road to recognition.

“Nobody took much notice at the time. I was told my songs were quite uncommercial,” she says. “And in the last few years, [‘Train Song’ has] been used in commercials.”

It’s quite special that Bunyan is willing to play the old songs, willing to tell the stories behind them, but also willing to look at what she dreamed about in her 20s with clear-eyed experience of someone in her 70s. Bunyan is kind to her younger self and gives us all an opportunity to be kind to the idealistic versions of ourselves that we might keep out of sight. It’s this generosity that has the crowd on their feet cheering at the end of her set, and that we can use to counter a harsher reality.

LIVE REVIEW: Vinicio Capossela, Alice, 25.11.2018

in Live Reviews by

Photos by Victor Yakimov

Vinicio Capossela has been a mainstay and an oddity in the Italian music scene since his first record, All’una e trentacinque circa, in the year of my birth, 1990. Borrowing from traditions as disparate as the troubadours, the folk music of southern Italy, Greek rebetiko and dixieland jazz, Capossela’s work fluctuates between the theatrical and the antiquarian, digging up old songs and embodying them in his performances.

Tonight, sitting by the piano in his captain’s hat (the first of many headwear choices) and dusty black suit with shell finishings, he looks halfway between Desire-era Dylan and an extra in a Visconti film. He’s accompanied by his “banda della Cupa”, named after his most recent release, Canzoni della cupa. 

But this evening is far from limited to these songs, with a selection spanning most of the highlights of Capossela’s career. Conscious of finding himself in the land of H.C. Andersen, Capossela picks some (very literal) siren songs, the playful swing number “Pryntyl” and the more meditative “Le sirene”.

There’s a party atmosphere in Alice tonight, a semi-official meetup of Italians in Copenhagen, lots of familiar faces and loud voices. The slow numbers give way to tarantelle and more costume changes. Towards the end, with Capossela’s most famous song, “Che cossé l’amor”, it becomes a veritable singalong.

During the encore, the sweet lullaby “Il paradiso dei calzini”, you can see and hear the Italians turn to their Danish friends to amusedly explain: this is a song about lost socks. A surprisingly sad one at that, but that’s just what Capossela excels at, mixing playfulness with nostalgia, social history with theatre.

LIVE REVIEW: Gruff Rhys, Alice, 24.11.2018

in Live Reviews by
gruff rhys live at alice in copenhagen resist phony encores

Few pop musicians possess the creative drive of Gruff Rhys. As if his work with the Super Furry Animals weren’t enough on its own, his prolific solo work and collaborations on everything from the concept synthpop of Neon Neon to appearances alongside De La Soul on the Gorillaz’s “Superfast Jellyfish” prove that the the man is tough to pin down but easy to love. In his last two albums Rhys has focused on a psychelia-tinged Americana, but the stylistic choice is in the service of the themes he covers, whether it be the adventures of Welsh explorer John Evans along the Missouri in American Interior, or his more topical American dystopia in his latest album, Babelsberg. 

True to his maximalist vision and energetic practicality, Gruff takes to the stage with a band, a slideshow, and his signature placards (including vintage SFA “GO APESHIT”). The first sign says “Side 1”, which gives you a pretty good idea of where the evening is going. Starting with the lush opener “Frontier Man”, Rhys tells the story of a national consciousness gone senile, and despite being pretty open about it (think of the song “Negative Vibes”) somehow avoids being a massive downer about it. His charm comes through even at his most cynical, and if you were feeling just a tinge melancholy as Side 2 winds to a close, the second half of the evening comes to the rescue.

Things take a more meditative turn with SFA track “Colonise the Moon”, replete with chiming guitars, a digital shruti box, and a roadie lighting incense sticks. The satyrical edge of the song is amplified by the noticeable discomfort in the drummer’s face as more and more sticks are lit, and no amount of hand signalling can divert the man from his task.

Rhys’s Welsh-language songs always seem to be his most joyful, and tonight is no exception, starting with the spaghetti-western-by-route-of-Bangor ‘Iolo’ to the “Hey Mickey”-inspired drums and vocals on “Gwn Mi Wn”. After this we are offered a choice: either some more “mediocre pop songs”, or, alternatively “a 20 minute crime drama”. Needless to say we all shout for “Skylon!”, a three chord riff that lays the foundation for the story of a bomb-disposal expert who saves a plane from a hijacker with a Semtex device disguised as a beer can (said device is carefully placed on the piano by the zealous roadie at the appropriate moment), and lives “unhappily ever after” with a mediocre tv personality he has been sitting next to.

As the night draws to a close, Rhys reminds us of his membership to the “Resist Phoney Encores” movement, leaving us with a wave and the last two cards: “The End” and “Thanks”.

Photos by Amanda Farah

1 2 3 4 5 30
Go to Top