review

concert: first aid kit

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on 1st november, first aid kit played shoreditch town hall in london. three days later, i am still happily caught in their harmonies like in an autumn fog.

the evening began with van william, whom i had once seen with his band port o’brien when i had a stubborn cold. this time, he seemed more earnest as he played his new solo songs, even as he made jokes about how he kept losing his guitar string at difficult notes and guessed his way to his next london gig. he also took us back to port o’brien times with “fisherman’s son” (whee), and was joined by first aid kit for “revolution”.

first aid kit‘s set went from new fireworks skating across frozen lakes towards lonely finish lines, to nights cutting like knives in “it’s a shame” (oh my, do i feel for klara in this video), from singing about cold stockholm and dancing to trombone solos in “emmylou” to “you are the problem here” which, as klara said, was written as a response to brock turner but sadly “keeps remaining relevant”. johanna and klara took the time to introduce their wonderful band warmly and their friend van came back out to sing on “king of the world“. apart from all the singing, dancing, and exuberant smiles exchanged freely between audience and band, one of my favourite moments was the first encore, “ghost town”, which johanna and klara performed by themselves and acoustic. they invited everyone to join in, even if they didn’t know the lyrics and people sang softly, like a ghost choir.

a gig like a seaside campfire, lovely and brilliant all around. and, judging from “fireworks”, “it’s a shame”, and “postcard”, their upcoming album ruins, out on 19th january 2018, will be one for the “repeat” button.

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concert: conor oberst ♫ phoebe bridgers ♫ miwi la lupa

i had good reasons to look forward to seeing conor oberst‘s gig at the london palladium on 1st february 2017. his latest album ruminations, released in october 2016, caught me off-guard with its shaky basement sounds, lonesome insomniac vocals, lines like “everything ends / everything has to”, “i’m worn gossamer thin” and “i don’t mind my head when there’s room to dream”, and just a guitar, harmonica, and piano. it was like emotional time-travel: it felt as important to me as fevers & mirrors did when i was a teenager.

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so i went into this gig with high hopes and, oh my giddy aunt, i left exuberant. also because of the musicians conor brought along. miwi la lupa, whom conor introduced as his best bud and omaha roommate, hung a cold moon from the ceiling. phoebe bridgers just about killed me singing radiant songs about smoke signals, funerals, and not feeling anything with her rainy day voice.

i am not surprised that, as conor said, omaha labels are arguing who gets to put out her upcoming debut album. the musical respect he expressed for her is mutual – she said she had some friends in the audience whom she would not introduce to conor, for they know how much of a bright eyes fan she was and still is – to prove her point, she covered “bad blood” (and owned it!). miwi accompanied conor throughout, beautifully and affectionately.  gig2for a bit, there was a harmonica assistant with a fish bowl. and oh, all the songs. especially “gossamer thin” (in which “read poetry” became “sipping tea”), “counting sheep”, “lenders in the temple”, “you all loved him once” (which conor said was about lennon, jesus, “fill in the fucking blank”), “the ladder song”, and a cover of  the replacements’ “here comes a regular” which his brother taught him when he was about 12. and then phoebe joined miwi and conor for “lua” (luckily for you someone caught this and shared it online). they also covered “jack at the asylum” by the felice brothers (whose music makes conor happy, he said, and less embarrassed about being from america*). i nearly had a heart attack it was so lovely to hear these three together.

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not only had i gotten what i came for, and been introduced to new favourite songs and musicians, but then conor and miwa also ended on “the big picture” – which i had never heard live – and “at the bottom of everything”. with conor screaming his heart out and all. boy, was i happy. when the lights came on and the canned music set in, it was like being kicked out of the only place you feel at home.

p.s. on march 17, saluations, a companion album to ruminations, will be released. it features full band versions of the ruminations songs and seven additional songs. gillian welch and maria taylor are on it, too!

*at one point, conor apologised for trump and noted that it’s the same story everywhere, racism, xenophobia, islamophobia, sexism all crawling about. although he was inclined to hide under his bed, he said, if we all stand up, “they can’t fuck with us”. and maybe stand up with the kind of lovely community feeling that was evident in all the hand-holding and hugs between the three musicians throughout the night (conor even, if perhaps jokingly, told miwi “holding your hand in vienna meant so much to me” – aw!). and, while conor seemed embarassed by his country, he also said that “it’s where the felice brothers are from” so it can’t be all bad.

concert: friska viljor

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 grinning at their own lyrics and stealing delighted glances at each other. asking for requests, telling stage secrets* and laughing at themselves. and, above all, singing and playing like it’s the last day of school and the first day of summer.

that’s daniel johansson and joakim sveningsson of friska viljor at magnet club in berlin on 6th may, halfway through their acoustic tour, putting out traps with songs from their upcoming album my name is friska viljor (following remember our name from 2013 – if you still don’t know their name, you’re seriously running out of excuses) and a set list that literally ends with the question “more?”. traps we hurl ourselves into giddily and a question that didn’t need asking.

of course we want more. more present tense exuberance and melodica oomph. more confused “whoo”s. more of these new harmonies in old songs and more new songs like that one about old childhood friends. or this one about having a choice not to break. and these other new songs “until the rain”, “mind the gap” and “in my sofa i’m safe“. this upcoming album, oh my♥

the encores were as heartbreakingly brilliant and all around lovely. if you weren’t dancing higgledy-piggledy to “arpeggio” whilst singing along at the top of your lungs, smiling when joakim stopped mid-chorus to listen to daniel sing, chanting an extra chorus of “we will carry you” at friska viljor during “gold” and waving your hands up in the air to “shotgun sister”, chances are you weren’t there. and if you weren’t jumping up and down during “monday”, for which joakim and daniel played with a make-believe band, chances are you weren’t me. but if you were there, chances are you were happy all night. if you were me, chances are you’re still happy. if your name is friska viljor, know that awoo will carry you, too.

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* never make ugly faces when you play a wrong note. never turn your back to the audience. and never scratch your behind, people will see it.
** if you speak german or swedish, here’s an interview (and a kazoo solo) i did with them in 2013.

concert: moto boy

moto boyin 2008, oskar humlebo made his first waves as moto boy with his self-titled debut album full of, as he says, “picture-less movies”. two weeks ago, moto boy’s third album keep your darkness secret came out and, a few hours ago, he finally played a headline gig in stockholm again. standing in the middle between alexander broberg on guitar and petra fors on keys. lights beating behind him. his sister somewhere in the dark of södra teatern in front of him, telling him off whenever he uses swear words. which makes him try to speak as stilted as possible. which makes people laugh. and songs. songs with pulsing chords and luminous vocals lovingly alternating between baritone and high-pitched falsetto and, oh, the radiance of “beat heart”. also: a delicate cover of anna-lena löfgren’s “regniga natt“, humble gratitude, some cheekiness and, in the pocket of the red jacket he wears for the encores, red lipstick he puts on for the last few songs. standing ovations. a song for the way home.
we’re lucky moto boy makes noise again. awoo!

concert: anders wendin

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walking through my home town listening to blood panic on a cassette tape, dancing the past away to “they’re building walls around us” in a festival tent and hearing “6 a.m.” and eldkvarn’s “fulla för kärlekens skull” at an acoustic show at södra teatern. all of these moments are years ago now. and they keep making friends. like last year, when moneybrother played “jag har gått och undrat över trädet” for the very first time in stockholm’s late summer light. and like yesterday, when he played katalin in uppsala with gustav on saxophone, magnus on violin and mandola, mikaela on piano, kisa on bass, norpan on drums and lovely viktor on trombone, harmonica and elegant dance moves.

some reviewers say that with his latest album dom ska få se vem dom roat sig med, the first album which anders wendin wrote his own songs in swedish for and which he released under his own name rather than as moneybrother or pengarbrorsan, anders wendin has found a style he can grow and grow old with. and, after yesterday, i see what they mean. everyone in the band was clearly enjoying themselves tremendously and anders wendin seemed even happier singing now than the last few times i saw him, if that’s possible, and was kind, charming and appreciative. telling stories at ease and with perfect timing.

for example about when he lived in uppsala and was lonely and sleep-deprived and about the night he (didn’t) take a sauna with the mandola player. but also about how he once saw a gig in america and already during the first chord wished they would play it forever and not even start playing the first song because it would be one song closer to the end and about his son who has only missed one show so far and whom he dedicated “större än så här” to.

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a magnificent and heartening night with beaming faces, glowing melodies, slapstick moments, all the songs off the latest album and some off pengarbrorsan – for example the bonus track, what a pleasant surprise! especially ♥: “jag har gått och undrat över trädet”, “du måste kunna gå nu”, “1952” and “midnatt till sju”, during which gustav, mikaela, kisa och viktor sang a stanza each. so, yes, it’s always worth taking a train (to see anders wendin). awoo!

concert: akiine

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disco for your freckles and yoga for your mind. that’s one way to describe AKIINE‘s music. another is dreams, as they say on their facebook page. perhaps dreams in outer space.

indeed, akiine and valerio’s performance at scandic grand central on 4th april 2014 was beautiful, heart-opening and surreal.
with brandnew songs and a brilliant new version of “paranormal activity”.  with “frid” which the guardian fell in love with 15 seconds in and which my mum phoned to say she liked a lot. she who otherwise doesn’t really listen to music much at all.

and the london-based duo isn’t just a treat for your ears – watching akiine dance is magical. when she jumps, gravity seems to make an exception for her. she doesn’t land on the ground heavily, she sort of bounces off it as if she was in her own space bubble. which we were all invited to dance into. and as she sang the chorus of “sunglassey” with the lines “i float with kindness and i float with love”, i couldn’t have agreed more. it was akiine and valerio’s longest gig so far but, of course, still way too short. go see them, if you can.
interview coming up. awoo!