Saturday 28 May 2011

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour and Abi Wade at ULU - 26 May 2011

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour (pic: Thomas Arnbo)

I’m mighty impressed with Abi Wade.

She’s sat at the front of the stage nesting a behind a cello. The audience that has wandered into the venue so far is mostly sat on the floor and talking amongst themselves.

It’s a tough gig.

However, Abi is a fascinating performer and a real multi-tasker. She sings. She plucks at the strings of her cello with the fingers of either one or both hands. She mostly eschews the use of the more conventional bow. Simultaneously, employing either a free hand or by wedging the object between her knuckles, she uses a succession of sticks and flails to act as percussion – bashing or stroking them against the frame of her instrument or across the strings as required. Meanwhile, her right foot is operating a small bass drum. Her left foot does not seem to be doing anything at all – it’s clearly not pulling its weight.

I must admit that I am more interested in Wade’s technique than I am her actual songs. These are keening, desolate affairs that conjure images of urchins sat on porches somewhere in the Appalachians. To be honest, such is the hubbub, it is difficult to hear her – I’ll try to trace some of her recorded work, if any exists.

Hope by Abi Wade

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour hail from Denmark and are a motley looking bunch. The guys in the band are mostly dressed in vests and casual sports gear. They are either stripped for action or else they have run out of clean clothing at the end of a foreign tour.

The band is tight and impressive, but they play very much second banana to singer Mette Lindberg, a woman who has evolved beyond having Big Hair to having Huge Hair. Great thick blonde ropes fall around her face. She looks like a mouse poking its head out of a haystack.

Mette knows how to work an audience – chatting throughout, loose of limb, always loping or jogging around the stage.

The band’s set still relies heavily on their first album ‘Fruit’. This is no bad thing because that record contains more bone fide pop hits and I-know-this-one-but-weren’t-sure-where-I-heard-it moments than you can shake a stick at.

The trumpet of Miloud Carl Sabri lends everything a swinging, almost New Orleans vibe. You can’t dance to this in the traditional sense, but you can certainly nod your head up and down and lurch wildly from foot to foot. Which I do.

Tracks such as ‘The Sun Ain’t Shining No More’ and ‘Around The Bend’ are frankly as good as you are likely to get anywhere. I had been feeling a little preoccupied and glum coming into this gig, but Asteroids Galaxy Tour soon chase the blues away.

For no apparent reason the band suddenly pull out a storming version of Men Without Hats ‘Safety Dance’. I leap around non-ironically.

The band finishes off with ‘The Golden Age’, a monster of a song which has been appropriated for the new Heineken ad, in which Mette and co also appear.

There is a side to Asteroids Galaxy Tour that is a little awkward and kind of un-cool. This is most unfair. They don’t get the kudos that they deserve for being a good time band that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face, a spring in your step and a catchy tune in your head.

This week I have seen a great band from Sweden and now a great band from Denmark. If this blog gets any more Scandinavian I’ll have to call it Kalla om Wyld or Hidkalde i den Wyld.

It’s got a nice ring to it...

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