Saturday 25 February 2012

Oh Land, Alpines at Heaven -23 February 2012

Oh Land

From hell to Heaven…

Arriving at the venue underneath the arches at Charing Cross, I am immediately confronted by a huge queue, which stretches down towards Embankment tube.

And yet, such is the Tardis-like quality of all music venues, once we actually get inside, the place seems almost empty.

A closer inspection shows that all those who preceded us have sardined themselves into a tightly packed knot at the front of the stage. The headliner is not going to lack for hardcore fans.

But first we have AlunaGeorge. I’ve seen these guys before and they didn’t make much of an impression. Despite their best efforts, the same is true tonight.

I had forgotten just how squeaky Aluna’s voice is. She could have a career as a Chipette. However, she works the crowd well, makes sure to thank the other acts and is thoroughly professional.

Beside her George supplies glitchy beats, which are kinda entertaining but only really get interesting when something goes wrong and the end of a song is gradually drowned out by an ever louder feedback buzz.

I’ve seen the next act Alpines before too and at that time pretty much dismissed them. I was wrong then and I’m glad to put the record straight now.

Some acts thrive in the limelight. Tonight, singer Catherine Pockson is tall and magnificently exotic, her hair tied up to make her tower even more. Her voice is rich and emotional and she dominates the room with a succession of powerful torch songs.

As is the current fashion, the electronic accompaniment is sparse, the drumming measured and heavy. Last time round I detected echoes of Portishead, and these are still here, although this music is much more obviously mainstream.

The band look like absolute stars. You rather wish this performance was being shown on telly. They’d sell an awful lot of records.

The stage clears. The lighting engineers experimentally project beams of red laser light down into the crowd. It’s like a scene from ‘Predator’.

To whoops from the packed throng, Nanna Fabricius aka Oh Land, bounces out into view. She’s dressed in a bright pink outfit which has sleeves fashioned from the heads of two giant teddy bears. Lady Gaga has a lot to answer for.

Nanna is bubbly, enthusiastic and cavorts wildly around like a school kid hopped up on fizzy pop and sherbet. She occasionally bashes at a drum kit before careening off again.

The unfortunate, insurmountable problem is that I find her music very pedestrian. Not bad, just not thrilling.

I watch for twenty minutes or so and it is clear that there are no hidden depths here, no possibility that things will suddenly take off into something unexpected.

I fade away. I’m pleased to have seen Alpines step up to the plate, but overall it’s been a fairly mundane evening.

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