Of Mice & Men
The Mo Club, Southampton, UK - 16/4
support Trusted Few + The Durango Riot
author AP date 19/04/12 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN
Blindside, as you may remember, canceled on us back in December, "forcing" us to move the premiere edition of this club night one week forward and feature bands of a completely different style. As such, we were more than pleased to learn that the Swedish post-hardcore icons would make up for the missed opportunity and headline this, our fourth event, and judging from the good turnout, we were not alone in having looked forward to this gig five months ago.
It is amid some confusion that the Swedish quartet Durango Riot appear on stage, as their inclusion on tonight's bill had not been announced even to us, the curators of this event. But it is all the same to me - more music tends to make for a more enjoyable evening, though it cuts into the time we have for throwing an afterparty. This Skånska bunch play indie/brit-fashioned pop rock of the extremely catchy and danceable kind, with nods to Arctic Monkeys (in the instrumental department) and Maroon 5 (especially in the fuzzy, distorted vocals of guitar-toting front man Fred Andersson). The band, completed by guitarist and backing vocalist Jacob Martinsson, bassist Håkan Ficks and drummer Erik Sjökvist, deliver their short set with a cheeky, and at times sleazy attitude with plenty of swagger and charisma, making them a stirring sight on stage, even if the music itself would benefit from some variety. It is not a particularly magnificent display, but the Durango Riot manage it with skill and conviction, and seem to draw adoring looks from most of the audience.
Ever since the release of Trusted Few's debut album, my interest in the Slagelse based band has steadily dwindled, largely due to the fact that most of the music on it failed to ignite any real excitement on my part. Consequently it has been nearly one and a half years since I last caught a glimpse of them live, and it is with mixed expectations that I enter the crowded room for the second time tonight as they take the stage. But in those one and a half years they have grown by leaps and bounds as songwriters, musicians and performing artists, it seems, because it takes exactly one brand new song to convince me yet again that Trusted Few are one of the most exciting bands in Denmark right now. Their quirky, complex, and at times wonderfully technical post-hardcore tunes truly come into life in the live setting (even if digesting them on record can be something of a daunting task), and bolstered by an energetic and impassioned presence on stage, their performance tonight quickly emerges as a triumphant one.
Adam Wengel Hansen's drumming is textured and tight as usual, and Johan Pedersen's combination of fierce screaming and emotive singing with resonating passion is a sight to behold; but the real boosters tonight are the extra guitar meat and pitch-perfect clean vocals of Andreas Juliussen, who passed his bass guitar onto latest member Christian Minch prior to the recording of "And Then We Forgot", and Philip Vesterager Brage's transformation from a rather shy looking, reserved guitarist eclipsed by the remaining members to a performer on par with the others when he is not busy spewing out complex leads. All this forms a perfect symbiosis on the likes of "Rock'n'rolla" (new song) and "The Cold Sea of Legacy", a duo on which Trusted Few flash their formidable knack for fusing seemingly incompatible genres - they move from thundering extreme metal blastbeats and tremolo to pop memorabilia within the space of a few minutes, and apparently with ease. If the band can muster up this kind of performance in the Roskilde round of the Danish W:O:A Metal Battle in two weeks, they seem like an obvious candidate for securing a slot in the final in Copenhagen, and perhaps even for winning the whole thing and performing at the esteemed metal festival this summer.
When finally the time comes for Blindside to appear, the concert room is bustling with eager fans, cherishing the long-awaited opportunity to witness the band live. But sadly, the reciprocation of this sentiment is not as climatic as one would expect, the band's set plagued by problems from the outset. Most notably - though I am not 100% certain this is true - Christian Lindskog's vocals are worrying low in the mix, and at times off tune, due to some ailment he is currently suffering from, driving him to shorten the band's set into a measly ten-or-so songs without many of the highlights from their brilliant latest album, "With Shivering Hearts We Wait". Fans of the old stuff are undoubtedly pleased to hear the likes of "Sleepwalking" and "All of Us" - the most noteworthy moments in the band's performance - while those of us eager to assess the live worthiness of the likes of "There Must Be Something in the Water" and "Monster on the Radio" are sorely disappointed. "Withering" - one of the standout tracks from that album, is played, but never with the power and emotional weight it rains down on the record.
Trusted Few's Johan Pedersen makes a heartfelt cameo in the set's conclusive piece, and the fact that this stands out as one of the most memorable moments in Blindside's performance is a sad indication of just how lackluster their display turns out to be. It is not often that local warm-up bands manage to eclipse the established international headliner, but here I must conclude, with genuine regret, that Blindside are without a doubt the worst band this evening. Granted, despite the technical issues the quartet attempts to deliver a professional, energetic show worthy of the price many in attendance have paid, but in light of them the effect and impression are entirely underwhelming.
Photos courtesy of Jill Weitmann Decome