Black Book Lodge

support Cacafogo
author AP date 20/05/16 venue Lygten Station, Copenhagen, DEN

Lygten Station may be on the smaller side of Copenhagen’s music venues, but Black Book Lodge selling the place out is nonetheless an impressive achievement for a band which is ostensibly still a pretty underground phenomenon. It has been far too long since I last had the opportunity to watch Black Book Lodge live, and the packed confines, not to mention the prevalent, festive atmosphere in the room bode well for this evening of domestic progressive music. Without further ado thus, let us delve into how the two scheduled acts fared in their respective slots.

All photos courtesy of Stefan Frank thor Straten

Cacafogo

Tasked with energising the audience ahead of the headlining performance is Cacafogo, an experimental, progressive rock act featuring, among others, two members of the wacko cock rock outfit Förtress. Whilst Nicklas Kirchert wields a guitar in Cacafogo just as he does in Förtress, Cato Jørgensen has swapped the drums with a cello and microphone, acting thus as the de facto frontman for this outfit completed by bassist Emil Winther, drummer Søren Høi and keyboard, organ and synth maestro Poul Høi. As the group’s moniker insinuates, the music is kooky and eccentric to say the least, navigating the frontier between moody, atmospheric prog passages and eruptions of bonkers jazz metal. The dynamic shifts are sudden and unpredictable, yet throughout the performance there is a sense of total control over the proceedings; peculiar though the songs may be, the only tongue-in-cheek element is the demeanour of Kirchert and Jørgensen, all bulging eyes, miming guitar notes and head… swirling? with such velocity the latter’s head becomes a distorted, tornado-like blur during some of the faster and more technical bits.

Indeed, Cacafogo create the impression of a band who both take themselves seriously and let themselves go. The contrast is there in the music in the juxtaposition of slower, more considered segments with ultra-technical, hyperactive discharges, just as it is there in the disparity between the austerity of Winther and the Høis, and the whimsical behaviour of the other two musicians. So while Cacafogo’s songs are quite difficult to latch onto because of their erratic nature, there is a balance to the show itself that makes it utterly captivating.

7

Black Book Lodge

Despite releasing their exceptional sophomore album ”Entering Another Measure” only last year and waving goodbye to guitarist and former bassist Trygve Borelli Lund in its wake, Black Book Lodge has wasted no time envisaging new directions for its moody progressive rock. The proceedings tonight begin with the introduction of both a brand new song, “Weightless”, and lead guitarist, Kristian Klærke, whose six-string wizardry some readers might recall from the hard rock band Black City, and the difference is instantly noticeable. The symbiosis between Klærke and frontman Ronny Jønsson is intoxicating, and might be just the injection Black Book Lodge needed to continue evolving into one of the premier bands Denmark has to offer right now; even the older songs such as “Thalassa” and “The Call” are awash with the fresh nuances that Klærke’s background in more guitar-oriented rock music brings, the solos dotting the ‘Lodge’s music here and there beaming with energy and soul.

The band as a whole looks reinvigorated, with none of the stillness, disconnection and indifference that plagued their show at the 2014 edition of Copenhell perturbing the show. Jønsson, Klærke, bassist Steven Ardilsø and drummer Jakob Gundel appear to be in high spirits, all honest grins and rocking out more than I have ever seen them do, and witnessing this, the sold out crowd repays the enthusiasm with profuse headbanging, frequent sing-alongs and even a moshpit during the crushingly heavy “Battering Ram”. With “Black Sheep / Prodigal Sons” twisted with some Crybaby porn soundtrack riffage by Klærke in its wake as well, Black Book Lodge manage to not only journey through the entirety of their discography hitherto, but also paint it in novel hues by virtue of nifty improvisation. And as you stand there and listen to the material, you realise just how deft this band is at penning interesting and memorable songs, with “27 Years”, “New Providence” and the brand new “Steeple and Spire” all heralding the arrival of a song-writing prowess seldom heard when talking about Danish bands.

The latter in particular is a phenomenal piece of music, the Steve Vai-esque, super technical lead by Klærke and the general Tears for Fears -influence of the thing quickly establishing it as one of the most lasting moments of the evening. Word is there is a new album underway which will include both “Steeple and Spire” and the opener “Weightless”, and if those two tracks set the standard, then the record is going to be a significant step upward even from the eminence of “Entering Another Measure”. But as much as the music stirs me, it is above all the energetic, intense and intimate performance staged by Black Book Lodge tonight that deserves the highest accolades. At the very least, this is the best they’ve ever been in the live setting.

Setlist:

  • 01. Weightless
  • 02. 27 Years
  • 03. Entering Another Measure
  • 04. Thalassa
  • 05. The Call
  • 06. New Providence
  • 07. Alizarin
  • 08. Steeple and Spire
  • 09. Battering Ram
  • 10. Black Sheep / Prodigal Sons

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