Returning to the UK post-festival season, Norwegian duo Röyksopp unleashed their new album Junior to a Shepherd’s Bush Empire at full capacity.
A white light filled the stage, strobes flickered manically with red flashing lights accompanying. Then the lights subsided, transforming to a serene blue as Röyksopp Forever, from their new release, got the rave started.
Torbjørn Brundtland is wearing what appears to be a garish though elaborate dressing gown. Svein Berge is sporting a black cape and space helmet, wholly apt for their distinctive mix of electronica and unnerving futuristic twangs.
Single This Must Be It hovers around the stage and welcomes vocalist Anneli Drecker to the stage, immediately lifting the mood. However, when the familiar beat of Remind Me fills the Empire, it shows the apparent problems the band faced with the absence of Kings Of Convenience singer Erlend Øye. Using a distorter to emulate Øye’s vocals fails to capture the essence of the song as his serene and melodic voice carried the tune. A mere imitation destroys the track and the crowd seems underwhelmed.
But Tricky Tricky’s heavy electronica, brought to life by Drecker’s powerful vocals coupled with an abundance of disorientating coloured lights, shakes up the place. Drecker twirls around the stage, swooping and gliding like a bird. She wears an owl-like mask and embraces the role enthusiastically.
As the set progresses, rave lights pulsate and the Empire starts bopping. Suddenly Robyn bounds on to the stage to sing The Girl And The Robot, which she does with ease and excitement. Her voice blends well with Röyksopp’s sound. Then the divinely blissed out Eple gently caresses the eardrums of its audience, but unexpectedly plunges into a deathly dangerous bassy number. It’s dirty and the crowd are rolling around in its depths. This new mix is as if the tune has lost its virginity and is out on the prowl.
They end with current single What Else Is There and Only This Moment from The Understanding, joined by both Robyn and Drecker who rev up the crowd to a quintessence. “Let’s go back to the beginning!” shrieks Brundtland as their first ever track So Easy plinks and plonks for the start of their encore. Drecker provides an interesting addition to the song; beautiful, intensely haunting harmonies. “Do you want more?” Brundtland asks the audience and keenly ends with an astounding Poor Leno.
And yet while the duo’s music is enticing, they need all their vocalists to bring their distinctive sound together. With some of their number – notably Karin Dreijer Andersson – absent, in this setting they lacked something.