Laura Stevenson

support Kristian Harting
author MIN date 21/05/16 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

Some people might know her for the role she played in the punk rock collective Bomb the Music Industry!, but as a solo artist, Laura Stevenson has had quite a career of her own so far. Along with her backing band, The Cans, she’s made four full-length records, including last year’s ”Cocksure” which showed an approach that leaned closer to pop-rock than the indie/folk structures that she’d previously showcased. Tonight’s show at Beta marks her second show in Copenhagen, but unlike the last time she was around almost two years ago, this is a show where she’s the headliner and not a part of a larger line-up.

Press photo by Christopher Hainey, originally from

Kristian Harting

The last few years, a tendency has arrived among musicians. Whereas the past many years singer/songwriter was the go-to profession for many aspiring artists, today it’s been altered a little bit; the last few years the guitar and vocal cords have been joined by a set of effect-pedals, and the person at the center of attention usually plays a riff or two which he/she loops and then plays something on top of. Tonight’s support is no exception, as Danish musician Kristian Harting takes the stage equipped with two microphones, his guitar and a set of pedals, and starts playing some soft and soothing melodies for the rather small crowd that’s decided to show up. By the third song, Kristian spices things up with an intricate riff that punctures the delicate but somewhat monotonous soundscape he’s created thus far, but by the end it also fades into the sound of quiet ambiance which we’ve heard a few times during the set already.

Harting has a good voice, his melodies are soft and pure, and the lyrics display themes and metaphors that a lot of people could probably relate to – but I must admit, it’s not at all to my liking. Too often it comes off as too cliché, and when he sings about the “Queen of the Highway” or “flying higher than the eagle / shining brighter than the firefly”, I lose any interest I might’ve had in the song’s melody. However, Kristian Harting is great at interacting with the crowd between songs; he’s honest and likeable, and even when he has trouble with his pedals during one of the last songs (which surprisingly features some pretty decent distorted noise and almost chant-like hymns) he manages to charm his way through it. That has to count for something when taking the entire performance into account.

Laura Stevenson

Despite the fact that the crowd hasn’t grown very much in the last twenty minutes between the sets, Laura Stevenson and her band manage to walk on stage with nothing but smiles on their faces. The set is kicked off with “Cocksure”-album opener “Out with a Whimper” which quickly reveals that this is going to be an excellent show, as we’re clearly able to hear the delicate riffs that progressively build up into distorted melodies over the voice of Stevenson’s delicate vocals. After having been flung by that emotional catapult, the band airs a one-two rock punch via “Torch Song” (featuring some excellent guitar work from Peter Naddeo) and “Emily in Half”, soon followed by “The Runner” from the artist’s previous album “Wheel”. As the concert proceeds, those watching the show are becoming more alive with each passing song, and in front of the stage several people are swaying and dancing, seemingly having a great time. There might not be many people present, but those that are actually give the band some great feedback. Laura Stevenson herself is especially prominent at responding to the intoxicated participants closest to the stage, but also the rest of the band (which features Mike Campbell of Latterman on bass, by the way!) seems to have a good time.

Halfway through the set I’m surprised at hearing the first few notes to a song by one of my favourite bands, but it’s true: the band’s actually covering The Replacements’ “Alex Chilton”, and although it doesn’t seem like a lot of people know the song, it’s still a damn solid rocker that gets your feet moving. Nonetheless, the songs that resonate the most with me tonight are those that feature Laura Stevenson’s beautiful quiet/loud-dynamics, such as the newer “Tom Sawyer”, “L-Dopa” or the classic “Master of Art”. But just as I think the set has reached a climax, the band leaves the stage and Stevenson performs the brilliant acoustic track “The Move” on her own. When she leaves afterwards, thanking us all for coming out, the audience calls her back for more, and luckily the request is greeted with a smile. She runs backstage and gets the rest of the band so that they can play another song together. I’m not sure which one it is, but I’m quite certain it’s “Holy Ghost” off her first album “A Record”, and it adds a nice punctuation mark on a fun, energetic, well-played and emotional set. After an hour we’re left wanting more, and I sure hope that the lack of people hasn’t convinced the band not to return.


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