Saturday 20 December 2014

Stealing Sheep and Kiran Leonard at Oslo - 18 December 2014

Stealing Sheep

It’s all very Christmassy. The restaurant downstairs is doing good business. A fat guy is so drunk that he is repeatedly falling against the table on which the DJ is perched, causing the records to jump. All is merry and bright.

I had heard good things about Kiran Leonard. What I initially actually get is a drummer and bassist gamely accompanying a gawky, gurning guy who is howling like Wild Man Fischer and assaulting a guitar. It’s not entertainment so much as a possible cause for medical intervention.  Not good at all.

However, having retired to another room for what seems like a safe period of time and then returning for his last three songs, I find the band transformed.

There is now a driving jungle rhythm and Leonard’s guitar is soloing wildly over the top. The whole room is rocking and dancing. Leonard seems much less physically awkward and is tying himself in knots to wring notes from his instrument.

Needless to say, this is a vast improvement over what went before.  Speaking to friends afterwards, the general consensus seems to be that the artist started very slowly but that everything seemed to gel and take flight about halfway through the set. So, recommended, but with reservations.

We have been promised that Stealing Sheep would put on an extravagant show. They certainly know how to make an entrance.

Led by a vast life size Chinese dragon, a procession of Pharonic figures make their way around the room. There appears to be a giant pink hippo with a fish stuck in its head. The rear of the party is brought up by a magnificently horned white ram. I’ve been drinking – but this is definitely real.

The three members of Stealing Sheep are almost unnoticed on stage, but start playing as the pageant in front of them moves away.

There is an immediate problem. Stealing Sheep are polite and pleasant but their music is so slight that they initially have difficulty in obtaining the interest of the crowd, many of whom are just blithely ignoring the band and are excitedly shouting into each other’s faces.

Stealing Sheep remind me rather of Ravioli Me Away, another band of women for whom the visual elements of performance are at least as important as their music. Stealing Sheep though are more lightweight, so unobtrusive that while they spread an undeniable vibe of bonhomie, there is very little else to fasten on to.

About halfway through the set, many of the musicians who had formed part of the pageant join the band onstage to play a variety of percussion instruments. This immediately beefs the sound up immeasurably and adds a sense of direction and purpose to proceedings. There’s a happy atmosphere and a warm glow about the place.

It’s been a very convivial evening. The visual elements will stick in the mind longer than the music, but that’s cool too.

Merry Christmas.

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