Sunday 25 March 2012

Katzenjammer, Karima Francis at Scala - 22 March 2012


Karima Francis faces an uphill task. She’s sat on a stool with an acoustic guitar and she’s trying to gather the attention of an audience who are stoked and excited for the headline act that follows.

She’s not quite alone. Hidden in the shadows at the side of the stage is a second guitarist. His profile is so low that I was only alerted to his presence at all after her set has finished.

Francis is certainly distinctive in appearance. I’ve often commented before on performers’ hair, but the huge pile of curls on display here is a magnificent construction that puts even Yehan Jehan in the shade. If it’s not a wig, then going to sleep must be like climbing into a nest.

Karima wins the crowd over by the simple expedient of being very sweet natured and having a terrific voice. There are big echoes of the likes of Joan Armatrading, so this is not revolutionary stuff. But it is really well done.

Norwegian band Katzenjammer have established an absolutely rabid fanbase that is similar to that of Amanda Palmer. The crowd talks to the band, the band talks back. The audience know that it is Anne Marit’s birthday and hold up cards and messages. Everyone laughs back and forth. As an outsider, I feel a bit excluded.

Katzenjammer are Fun with a capital ‘F’. They are deliberately zany and kooky and play to their considerable strengths. This includes multiple swapping of various esoteric instruments, including a spectacular bass balalaika which is as big as a desk.

The songs are mostly riotously upbeat numbers which lean more towards musical theatre or cabaret than rock. There is much stamping and singing and clapping from the audience, which is so pleased with itself that the air hangs heavy with self-congratulation.

The girls take it in turns to showcase themselves. It is pure Vaudeville. Banjos are plucked, ukuleles are strummed, and accordions are wheezed. There is much harmonising. Anne Marit, Marianne, Solveig and Turid are so impressive that it is hard to resist them.

New album ‘A Kiss Before You Go” gets a good airing, including a pounding version of single “Rock Paper Scissors.”

Watching them perform, you get the feeling that the only thing that could limit Katzenjammer’s success would be the size of audience that they can play to. They will do fearsome damage at this summer’s festivals.


Keith Knight said...

A better head of hair than Yehan Jehan? I would need convincing.

Niamh Moran said...

Hi there!

We just read your blog, and we don't want any Katzenjammer fan to feel excluded from anything. We hoped that by passing around flyers explaining what we were up to, it would ensure that people weren't left out. we're so sorry that you seem to have missed out on one of those flyers, or felt left out out even if you did receive one!

We would love for you to join Katzenjammer Nation and feel part of everything. It is a new Fan Forum - in fact it was only officially recognised by Katzenjammer the same day as the Scala gig - which hopefully explains some of our excitement!! So it was exciting when Anne Marit formally referred to us as Katzenjammer Nation at Scala as it meant Katzenjammer management had officially approved our name and concept and we can now proceed with creating our own KJN shirt!!

Since then, the group has expanded and we'd love to have you on board. Please have a look on FB group page and ask to join us so you can see what we're up to!!

In a few weeks we are moving to our official website utilising a more user-friendly forum.

We'd love to see you there!!! And sorry again, if you felt excluded - that was certainly not our intention whatsoever.



Niamh Moran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Niamh Moran said...

Hey there,

We have just set up our new website at with our new fan forum. Do drop by and register as a member here:

We'd love to see you there!


Niamh :D