support The Blue Van
author TL date 14/06/06 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

Last night I was in Copenhagen witnessing a show serving as a replacement for Razorlights’ cancelled warmup-duty for The Rolling Stones. To further establish my reputation as the most stupid reviewer at RF, I once again excelled at forgetting my camera. Thus you’re gonna have to trust me when I tell you, that last nights gig was, above anything else, VERY sweaty.

As a venue, Loppen pretty much defines the word ‘intimacy’ for you. It’s a medium-sized bar on the third floor with a very low ceiling (2.7 metres). Although the place is supposed to have room for 450 people, I don’t think you can actually cram much more than 200 in there. I have no numbers to back me up, but the important thing is that yesterday, the place was packed!

At approximately 21:40, The Blue Van entered the stage, which was a surprise to me, since they weren’t mentioned on posters or anything. For those of you who don’t know the band, the Danish quartet plays retro-soul/rock with a sound reminding you more of old American bands than of your average Danish indie-band. The lineup consists of your usual vocalist/guitarist, bassist, drummer and your not quite so usual Hammond-organist. The band is rumoured to be really good live, and I can only say that the rumours are true. Although it seemed like only very few people in the crowd knew the band, people where nodding along and giving substantial applauses after each song. The bassist, who looked quite a bit like Mikey Way (the bassist from My Chemical Romance), proved that the resemblance were only of looks and instrument, and NOT of stage performance. He was constantly jumping around, sliding on the floor, climbing the speakers, urging people to clap along or hammering his bass into the amps – basically giving the audience a show. Sound was good, even if somewhat loud in my opinion. For a band unknown to most of the audience, it’s hard to do a better warm up than this.

After the nice warm up, the crowd was ready for Razorlight, and if the floor in front of the stage seemed packed before, it only got worse now, as fans filled with anticipation moved even closer. The heat was suffocating and everyone was sweating hard. Disappointingly, tonights’ stars chose to keep the audience in suspense for more than an hour before finally entering the stage. Most signs of malcontent vanished when the young Brits’ finally entered the stage though. “Rip it Up” marked the kick-off, as Razorlight began to give the fans a run for their money with plenty of energy and a crystal-clear sound. The new single “In the Morning” is the first in a row of new songs to be tested on the crowd tonight, and even though I seemed to be the only one who knew the words already, the new material was received rather well by the audience, and deservedly so. The new material sounded great tonight and songs like the already mentioned “In the Morning” and the up tempo “Back to the Start” lifted expectations for the upcoming album with the same brilliant hooks and sparkling energy we’re used to hearing from the band, while still maintaining a feeling of being new and exciting.

Frontman Johnny Borrell lived up to his reputed arrogance and did little to interact with the crowd. He DID urge people to clap along, and he DID a little crowd manipulation at one time but it was really hard to shake the feeling, that he didn’t really give a fuck if people liked the show or not. Maybe it’s because the man doesn’t seem to ever smile. During the entire show I only caught him smiling once, namely when he was holding a note on “Fall Fall Fall” and the crowd was singing along, trying to hold the note too. Johnny clearly made a point out of stretching it just long enough for no one to be able to follow him, which of course only made the crowd go more insane. A cool moment, no doubt, and not a decisive annoyance, since the arrogant edge to the vocals is a Razorlight trademark and a huge part of why I like them so much.

Despite what’s previously stated, this show wasn’t at all that unique or spectacular. There was an odd break in the middle of the show, for no obvious reason, and the setlist seemed to have too little structure to build up any sort of substantial momentum. The guitarist Björn Ågren delivered the most boring and uncool stage performance I’ve ever seen, outdoing even the notorious and previously mentioned Mikey Way, and I thank God for standing near the opposite side of the scene. Basically, the most positive thing about this gig was the display of new material, which has given me high expectations for the upcoming album.

To conclude, I can’t say that this show wasn’t a decent effort. I don’t think many from the crowd are complaining about the performance, as the sound was superb, Johnny’s voice was amazing and the songs were every bit as good live as they were on the album, but to me there was just a feelin’ that something was definitely wrong, and I don’t know if the heat simply got to the band as much as it did the crowd, but knowing Razorlight and knowing what other bands are pulling off live out there, it was really hard not to feel, that to these stars, this was just another day at the office. I have no doubt in my mind, that this band is capable of so much more than this.

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