Alberta Cross

support The Candles
author TL date 25/06/13 venue BETA, Copenhagen, DEN

If you've managed to keep up with the flurry of material being posted on here over the past week's time, you might have thought to yourself: "three gigs and an interview in five nights - maybe it's time TL has a day off". Well.. No? Why not make it four gigs in six nights I think to myself, as I enjoy a beer on the bus crossing the city headed for Beta, where Alberta Cross is playing. The English duo was recommended to me last time they played in town, and since then I've been meaning to write something about their 2012 album "Songs Of Patience" but haven't gotten around to it. So I guess covering this event is sort of my way of making it up to both the band and myself, but before we get to that, let's assign some words to tonight's support band:

All photos courtesy of Kenny Swan

The Candles

The Candles are a quartet from New York who, counting two guitarists, a bassist and a pianist, are short of a drummer tonight, so Fredrik Aspelin from Alberta Cross is filling in. As they start their set, it quickly becomes clear that they're fans of the American country-rock traditions, with especially the organ tones coming from their keyboard characterising a sound that should quickly interest any fan of Neil Young or Ryan Adams that might be hiding in the audience. Interestingly though, there seems to be some early issues with the monitors that send some vocals harmonies a good bit off key, which makes the band sound almost a little like Pavement, especially when considering the guitar solos that find their way into the sound at opportune moments.

As soon as levels are properly adjusted however, the sound settles in as a retro/country-rock that's very loyal-to-tradition. The songs are fairly elegantly composed and solidly played with only few further slips in the harmonies, and the band seems comfortable and relaxed on stage, making the necessary friendly remarks to chase off any awkwardness that would otherwise probably grow during the frequent tuning- and capo-relocation breaks. The whole set is pretty laid back and enjoyable, but also a bit too safe for my taste, with the songs following the rules of their genres almost blindly and certainly predictably. One in particular even starts exactly like Ryan Adams' "Rescue Blues", tricking me into thinking it's a cover for a moment. Overall then, I'd say this was more 'casually enjoyable' than a particularly 'charismatic spectacle'.


Alberta Cross

Those not in the know might be a bit surprised to see many of the same people return to the stage when the time comes for the Alberta Cross set, but seeing as the moniker only really covers English New Yorker Petter Ericson Stakee and his drummer Aspelin on this tour, the guys in The Candles are both the support and the touring band. It makes sense for them to tour together however, as my guess is that they share an influence in Neil Young, whom I'd mention along with Band Of Horses as references to Alberta Cross' soundscape, which is also occasionally mixed with more trippy and noisy rock in the vein of a band like Kasabian.

It doesn't take long for us to get the notions that a) Stakee's high, thin vocals sound every bit as peculiar and great live as they do on record, and he is a noticeably more jittery and up-beat performer than the guys in The Candles. His vocals are delivered with precision and immersion, while he takes every chance he gets to dance about while he's focussing on his guitar and makes sure to also put in some friendly and encouraging words during his own tuning breaks. Visually there's more movement on stage, if not on the floor, where a relatively full Beta seems content with just gently swaying back and forth to the music, saving their energy for generous applauses between songs.

It makes for a mood that's very neat and proper, and while Stakee doesn't seem disappointed, you can tell that he wouldn't mind if this was a drinking night and things were a bit more rowdy, as he sips red wine and continously tries to reach across the gap with charming between song banter. Meanwhile, the songs that come off the setlist from both of his albums prove that not only does he have a knack for well-timed dynamics in his songwriting, he also has good variety to choose from in his catalogue. On one hand you have songs like "Magnolia" and "Old Man Chicago", that are both relatively calm, yet catchy, but you also get some proper rocking in opener "Crate Of Gold" and closer "ATX", both of which show that Alberta Cross can also prompt your body to move.

Still, while Stakee stays in a good mood, a laid-back audience keeps the overall experience at a "solid", and I notice some minor problems with the sound, such as the frontman's own playing occasionally being inaudible in the mix, depending on which of his instruments he's using. So when the regular set ends, the loud calls for an encore feel a bit out of place considering how casual things have been up until this point. Still, it prompts Stakee to return for two songs, the first of which - "The Devil's All You Ever Had" - he performs solo and acoustically, and so impressively that it completely overshadows my memory of the song the full band plays at the end. In fact, when he steps away from the microphone to sing one of its refrains unplugged, you can tell exactly the sort of crowd participation that's missing, and that could probably easily help another of Alberta Cross's shows earn an even higher grade than:


comments powered by Disqus


© Copyright MMXXI