Wednesday 25 May 2011

Niki And The Dove, Seams at Electrowerkz - 24 May 2011

Niki & The Dove (pic by John Dahlroth)

I love this venue. It’s a big black metallic box of mystery. It’s all dark and sharp and unforgiving. And the way in is never in the same place twice. Electrowerkz is as much a puzzling enigma as it is London’s home of industrial bleeps and bloops.

The place is largely empty when I Am Camera kick the evening off. I know nothing about them at all and subsequent internet searches draw a blank. What I will say is that the singer is so long-legged and striking that you’d know if she was in the room even if she wasn’t standing onstage with a microphone.

The band lay down a pulsing Euro-beat and the singer sways on her high heels and emotes in a fairly regulation fashion. Truth be told, the band are proficient rather than exciting, but there is a certain hypnotic quality to them and they are perfectly enjoyable.

When I first see Seams, my heart initially sinks. It’s one bloke balancing a pile of electronics on a flight case – generally a recipe for tedium.

But happily my preconceptions are misplaced. Seams is not only a personable performer, but crucially, he brings the beats.

Instead of the usual self-indulgent knob twiddling, Seams (real name James Welch) can build a tune and turn the by now thronging crowd into a happy pulsing mass.

The first track sounds like a distorted musical box. A later track appears to be based upon a slight scrap of piano music, looped and multi tracked. I like.

I know that I am in good hands with the headliners right from the off. The three members of Niki and the Dove stand in a row and blow through wooden bird callers. These are fed through various bits of equipment until the whole venue sounds like an aviary.

The first thing to remember about this Swedish band is that there is no Niki in the band. And no Dove either. Instead, we are mesmerised by the marvellous Malin Dahlström, who is a vision in face paint and big hair.

Her voice is astonishing in range and, waving her arms and grinning all over her face, she comes across as a Bjork who would rather free your mind (and your ass will follow) than Free Tibet.

Her two cohorts stand behind her, either laying down a wall of clanking percussion or funky slabs of dark electric disco.

For much of the set the band are joined by two masked go-go dancers who writhe and gyrate very s-l-o-w-l-y, as though they are running at half speed. It is silly and sensual and exuberant all at once.

An early highlight is the epic ‘Under The Bridges’ an anthemic dance track that mutates into a scrabble of random electronic noise. The dancers are now whirling hoola-hoops around their necks. Slowly.

There is a warm, organic feel to much of Niki & The Dove’s music. At one stage palm leaves are distributed to the crowd. The leaves are waved happily and turn this metal box of a room into a lush and tropical hothouse.

The band conclude with a thunderously drum-driven ‘DJ, Ease My Mind’. Malin smiles and dances. So do we.

So, to recap – No Niki, No Dove- but one hell of a show.

Download free track ‘The Fox’ here.

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