Siamese Fighting Fish

support Ciccone Ritchie
author HES date 09/03/13 venue BETA, Copenhagen, DEN

I arrive to a pretty full Beta. The Amager-based venue is swept in Japanese calligraphy and I am greeted by geishas offering me shots of sake. It’s once again time to party with one of Copenhagen’s most creative party planners – the theme of tonight is of course Japanese as the hosts in Siamese Fighting Fish (SIFIFI) just signed their first Japanese contract. The invite included a youtube video of a ninja speaking Japanese. SIFIFI has invited their friends from Ciccone Ritchie to warm up the crowd for them.

Ciccone Ritchie

I haven’t heard any of Ciccone Ritchies music ever before, but their name has been on the posters as warm up for a few Copenhagen concerts lately so I was glad to finally hear what the fuss was about. Unfortunately the band wasn’t at its best tonight as frontman Bjarke Madsbøll was quite obviously suffering from what the referred to as “seasonal conditions”. Madsbøll obviously had a quite rusty voice because of these conditions, but halfway through the show it seems to get the best of him. He loses a bit of energy and none of the other band members manage to engage the audience, so it ends up being a quite introverted set towards the end. Introverted is actually a word that in many ways describes Ciccone Ritchies performance.

Vocalist Bjarke Madsbøll © Henrik Moberg Jessen

Madsbøll is the only one on stage having any contact with the audience as Peter Hansen on guitar, Asger Felby Sørensen on guitar and Lars Hermansen on bass seem way more preoccupied with their instruments rather than the moment. This kind of behaviour is always unflattering in performances as it makes the audience feel extremely unappreciated. During the entire show the well-known “zone of awkwardness” keeps the audience and band apart. Musically the band did well. Their music is balancing between the introvert and the more expressive, even aggressive. However a lot of opportunities to make this contrast stand out is lost by the band members almost playing in unison from song start to song end. On the brighter side, new drummer Phillip Hansen (formerly of Incinerate) actually did a very professional job and the band seems to have put quite the time into “adopting” him into the band.

Siamese Fighting Fish

Alright so as earlier mentioned this show is in celebration of the fact that SIFIFI has signed a contract with a Japanese record label and never missing an opportunity to take the theme too far, the guys start the show with the theme-song from Disney’s Mulan, nevermind the fact that Mulan is actually a Chinese character. Due apologies are given by frontman Mirza Radonjica and we’re off. This is probably the 10th concert of theirs I’ve been to and a lot has changed since the early days. Latest news is that drummer Villads Ettrup Berg is no longer in the band. Tonight, the young Felix Ewert is doing quite an amazing job with keeping up to the very high standards this band is known for setting. SIFIFI will later in the year be joined by a new guy on the drums.

Violinist Christian Hjort Lauritzen © Jonas Smidt Mogensen

As I mentioned, a lot has happened to SIFIFI in the past 5 years and Radonjica actually makes this quite obvious between songs, thanking the audience for their support. And it’s not only in the talks between songs you really hear how the band’s grown up, it’s becoming quite obvious that these boys are growing up themselves. They start up the show with their attack on modern day “pop culture”, “Crap Is The New Black” and the crowd sings along. It’s not often you hear this at rock shows, but SIFIFI has such a loyal and devoted fanbase and when Radonjica asks the crowd how many in the room bought their latest album, almost all hands are in the air.

But it’s not only in the crowd that people are loyal. This band really takes their audience seriously and in opposition to the warm up band all members on stage are actively seeking eye contact – with each other and with the audience. The interaction between Radonjica and violinist Christian Hjort Lauritzen is specifically amazing during “Party Like Charlie Sheen” as Radonjica follow the high notes of the violin-bridge in a perfect falsetto. Radonjica’s voice has evolved beyond what I ever imagined it could, with amazing debt in the verses, a more and more trustworthy falsetto and last but not least a perfectly mastered and heart wrenching scream.

Siamese Fighting Fish © Jonas Smidt Mogensen

The crowd gets a rarerity in the form of “Chronicles of Lovers” that the band doesn’t play at concerts normally. It moves gently into the beautiful and Balkan-inspired “How Long Will It Take”. Unfortunately it becomes obvious that Lauritzens violin is buried a bit too deep in the mix. However the jump between songs seems to also have received a bit of TLC from the band and the set actually seems more fluid than normally. All in all this is how a very professional band sounds like. I’ve seen bigger bands perform with less love for the craft, less control over their appearance and less mastering of their instruments than SIFIFI. It clearly pays off to play loads of live shows. The band members seem to enjoy each other's company – this is not to be underestimated. You simply get infected with their love for what they do. As the band plays the last song “Perfect Human Being” some even manage to make a quick stage dive from Beta’s very low stage. You may not have been there but take my word for it: this is dedication on a very high level.

9

Setlist:

  • Crap Is The New Black
  • God is on TV
  • Liar Cried Wolf
  • Party Like Charlie Sheen
  • Chronicles of Lovers
  • How Long Will It Take
  • H.A.U.T
  • Scarred by Omens
  • The Day Me And My Friends Quit Drinking Diet Coke
  • Vilo Moja
  • Perfect Human Being

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