Wolfmother

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author PP date 22/06/12 venue Tivoli, Copenhagen, DEN

It's the first time I'm participating in one of Tivoli's famed Fredagsrock events ('Friday rock'), which usually houses super-mainstream pop bands not at all relevant to Rockfreaks.net in the middle of the oldest amusement park in the world at the heart of Copenhagen. Tonight, however, the event finally lives up to its name as the flagship band for revivalist blues rock, Wolfmother, have been scheduled to play as the sun gently sets in the background, so of course we're attending especially in the wake of their brilliant Roskilde Festival performance from 2006.

Starting with "Apple Tree", Wolfmother capture the 800-1000 people strong audience's attention straight away with their distinctly Led Zeppelin-sounding guitar/vocal interplay. The sound is crystal clear for once (I've been told it's terrible at this venue every time), possibly because the ever-annoying wind factor has been reduced to a minimum tonight, allowing for the sound to travel all the way to the middle of the audience unhindered where I'm standing to get the best view possible. The band's eclectic vocalist Andrew Stockdale sports a hair-do that almost rivals Claudio Sanchez from Coheed & Cambria, so he and his band mates are all 'hair' when playing their songs. It's all about the old school head bang and rock star stage charisma with these guys, though never too much to annoy the crowd in superfluous displays of arrogance.

As we've grown to expect from previous concerts with Wolfmother, the band's studio material, as good as their debut album especially is, are merely vehicles for the band's desire to improvise heavily when played live. That's why "Dimension", the second song, is dragged out to at least twice its length as the band spend lengthy amounts of time jamming away. But unlike Red Hot Chili Peppers who absolutely ruined themselves back in Roskilde Festival 2007, Wolfmother have always sounded good when improvising. These are the moments that Stockdale & friends connect almost telepathically while jamming to the tune of sweet, sweet 70s inspired guitar effects. They also take good care to build these into the songs themselves, so it never becomes one long improvisation session rather than extended editions of existing material. This was perhaps a point of contention that lead into the band's split in 2009, leaving Stockdale as the only original member remaining, but that doesn't seem to have affected the band's stage dynamic whatsoever.

"Woman" predictably draws the biggest response from the crowd with nods of approval visible from all corners of the crowd, but also old classics like "Vagabond", "Joker & The Thief" and "Colossal" receive a good response as well. To the delight of this reviewer, the vast majority of their set is spent on their considerably stronger debut album, with fewer songs making their way into the set list from the rather disappointing "Cosmic Egg". Eighty minutes later, we've seen seventeen songs (including the encore), and I have to admit leaving the venue rather satisfied after a last-minute rollercoaster ride (it is an amusement park, after all). It's hard to put a finger though to what exactly makes Wolfmother so good, but it's a combination of an authentic sound, great songs, and good stage energy (hair all over the place is basically my entire memory of the show) that puts Wolfmother into a class above their peers in Rival Sons, who are at least as good on record.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Apple Tree
  • 2. Dimension
  • 3. California Queen
  • 4. New Moon Rising
  • 5. Woman
  • 6. White Unicorn
  • 7. Long Way to Go
  • 8. Love Train
  • 9. Mind's Eye
  • 10. Colossal
  • 11. Joker & the Thief
  • 12. Cosmic Egg
  • 13. Vagabond
  • Encore:
  • 14. Keep Moving
  • 15. Where Eagles Have Been
  • 16. In the Castle
  • 17. Tales

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