Everything about Dylan LeBlanc’s show at Ideal Bar feels crowded. The small room is sold out. His backing band — a second guitarist, bassist, drummer, plus keyboardist and cellist — barely fit on the stage. The endless push to the bar suggests a queue that never ends.
But the mood is light. It’s the first night of the tour and LeBlanc’s first time in Europe in five years. His repeated expressions of gratitude to the audience are so earnest they almost sound insincere (but the room is full of Americans, so they know he’s sincere). It’s an air that likely grew out of his early work, based mostly on acoustic guitars and a singer-songwriter aesthetic. While there is an interlude of LeBland alone on stage with just a guitar, the heart of the set is a bluesy Americana.
The songs often begin composed and measured, revealing complex and layered arrangements. At these points, it’s LeBlanc’s cellist who really stands out as the fact that alters the songs beyond a specific genre. Often the songs devolve into squalls of thrilling but increasingly predictable guitar feedback. At these points, you can feel how tight the space is; their movements are restricted beyond a point of natural inclination and on more than one occasion I fear Leblanc will get a guitar neck to the face. Songs’ endings stretch out beyond a sense of efficiency. It does reveal how tightly rehearsed the band is, but it also seems strange after a while that any one of those songs is not the end of the set.
At some point towards the end of the set, LeBlanc spills off of the low stage and plays in the protective ring the audience has formed around the stage for their bags. Leblanc is still clearly aware of the potential of hitting other people while he plays, though given a little more freedom. In a clearly well-rehearsed set, this still feels like a genuine expression of his energy, the way his constant thanks seem like a genuine expression of gratitude. And given the audience’s response,
it seems likely that when LeBlanc and his band eventually return to Copenhagen, it will be to a bigger stage.
Photo by Morten Aagaard Krogh