Graveyard

support Free Fall + Fuzz Manta
author AP date 07/03/13 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

One of this year's most anticipated gigs for me, and one which I would certainly not mind seeing again at a festival this summer, was one celebrating the good ol' days of rock'n'roll when Pro-Tools did not exist and recording was done analogue. Yes, the magnificent Graveyard was headlining a bill completed by two very different, yet intriguing artists from Denmark and Sweden in Fuzz Manta and Free Fall. Read on to hear my thoughts on each of the three.

All photos by Jill Weitmann Decome

Lene Kjær Hvillum of Fuzz Manta

Fuzz Manta

At the bottom of tonight's bill is a local act, whose existence as a band traces back seven years. As I enter the rather empty-looking room with my colleague from another magazine, the band are already some 15 minutes into their set, stoning their way through a heavy, psychedelic jam that assures me I must tank up on beer before this stuff will start making sense to me. Once that need has been catered to, Fuzz Manta instantly begin to sound more welcoming, blending elements of Black Mountain, Deep Purple and Siena Root in a dreamy mixture of psychedelic hard rock. Fronting the band is Lene Kjær Hvillum, whose performance is a captivating mixture of commanding and wooing; her voice and guitarplay resonating with power, her movements lassoing the crowd's intrigue. Her choice of delivering some two minutes of vocals that consist entirely of du-du-duhs is enthralling, to say the least, and only adds to the spaced out vibes spiraling off the stage, courtesy of the remaining musicians.

In the third track (since my arrival, that is), Fuzz Manta venture into Mars Volta style territory with a hectic, drum pummel driven jam that instantly reminds me of its equivalent in that band's track "Goliath" and has me nodding along in tremendous approval; and in the fourth, we are given an insight into a softer, dreamier facet of this quintet that proves equally as enticing as its predecessor. So even though I only catch a rather brief glimpse of what Fuzz Manta are all about, I have no difficulty decreeing that you should keep an eye out for this band, especially if psychedelic rock is your genre of preference. It's a solid performance, with the only real point of critique manifesting itself in the keyboard player, who has either forgotten to turn his instrument on or forgotten to demand more volume for it during the soundcheck. As it is now, there is absolutely no way of detecting that instrument's role in Fuzz Manta's music. But thankfully, the excellent delivery by the remnant musicians does well enough in redeeming its absence in the mix.

Kim Fransson of Free Fall

Free Fall

Following that acid fix is something entirely different: a classic Swedish hard rock act in the vein of Hardcore Supsterstar, The Hellacopters and my recent Danish discovery Fortress. In fact, the band's vocalist Kim Fransson sounds almost exactly like Joakim Berg, with his fuzzy high-pitch singing bearing all the hallmarks of a sleazy old school hard rock vocalist. Octane is high from the get-go, and I'd be lying if this first song doesn't have me banging my head along at once. It is extremely generic stuff - the kind that would have gone down perfectly at a place like the late City of Sin in Copenhagen - but the collective energy of the band (completed by guitarist Mattias Bärjed, bassist Jan Martens and drummer Ludwig Dahlberg) is nothing short of infectious, and ensures that the now beefed up audience well and truly get their money's worth. Exemplary of this balls to the walls approach is track two, "Midnight Vulture", but thankfully some much needed variety is injected into the frey with the slower, gloomier "Damnation". Aside from that piece, however, there is little relent to be enjoyed during a set that is first and foremost characterized by energy of the sort that you just cannot resist even with the acknowledgement that Free Fal's music is riddled with clichés - small surprise their debut album is titled "Power & Volume". So while musically Fuzz Manta just delivered a superior concert, the performance here is much more riveting.

8

Joakim Nilsson of Graveyard

Graveyard

Graveyard receive a heroes' welcome as they enter engulfed in the sound of sirens, and proceed to kicks the proceedings off with "An Industry of Murder" - the first track of their excellent third album "Lights Out" from last year. It is nonetheless a shoddier-than-expected start, as the band neither look nor sound at ease, with the following "Hisingen Blues" thus regrettably proving to be a somewhat less climatic experience than I had hoped. But as the minutes clock in, Graveyard do begin to hit the stride we had all so eagerly anticipated, coming across as nothing short of breathtaking on the grandiose ballad "Slow Motion Countdown", a glorious affirmation of the songwriting talent of this quartet. Bathed in a single pale yellow spotlight each, guitarist/vocalist Joakim Nilsson, lead guitarist Jonathan Larocca-Ramm, bassist Rikard Edlund and drummer Axel Sjöberg manage, with the simplest of aesthetics, to capture the blues with such finesse it gives me the chills. No less astonishing is the live rendition of another slow piece, "Hard Times Lovin'", a little later, with Nilsson and his baritone nostalgia sounding every bit like Nick Cave.

Axel Sjöberg of Graveyard

Needless to say, Graveyard are absolutely at their best playing this type of songs - culminating in the beautiful "The Siren" in the encore. But the more energetic rock'n'roll tracks are still no less absorbing, with "Seven Seven", "Ain't Fit to Live Here" and the "Hisingen Blues" B-side "Granny & Davis" in particular catering glimpses of utter brilliance. And even though Graveyard are not the liveliest bunch on stage, they do their best at exuding the kind of energy needed to rile up a crowd real good. There's something completely mesmerizing about the retro feel of the band's music, and it honestly seems more becoming for the four of them to lose themselves in the music and sway gently from side to side than to thrash around like Free Fall did just before. Indeed, save for the sloppy start, there is very little to put a finger on here. Of course, my personal biases had predicated that songs like "No Good, Mr. Holden", "The Suits, The Law & The Uniform" and "Fool in the End" needed to be played for a complete experience; but even I who never much enjoyed the self-titled debut must admit that the picks from that record that stand in their place tonight - "As the Years Pass by, the Hours Bend", "Thin Line" and "Evil Ways" are excellent replacements, and in no way a disappointing inclusion.

Setlist:

  • An Industry of Murder
  • Hisingen Blues
  • Seven Seven
  • Slow Motion Countdown
  • Ain't Fit to Live Here
  • Buying Truth (Tack och Forlåt)
  • Uncomfortably Numb
  • As the Years Pass by, the Hours Bend
  • Granny & Davis
  • Hard Times Lovin'
  • Thin Line
  • Goliath

--Encore--

  • The Siren
  • Endless Night
  • Evil Ways

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