Live Music + Gig Reviews

Disco Ensemble @ Barfly, London

20 September 2012

The last time Disco Ensemble played a show in London was in 2006 and, back then, the musical climate was vastly different. For one thing, guitar music was still riding the waves of the charts and in particular, thanks to the likes of My Chemical Romance and Panic! At The Disco, the popularity of emo had been ascending at an alarmingly quick rate. Not only that, but a Finnish heavy metal group wearing masks won Eurovision.

Fast forward six years and, even though the venue that the Finnish punk quartet are playing at remains the same, lots of things have changed. Emo isn’t quite the formidable force it once was, guitars have fallen by the wayside in favour of synthesisers (even My Chemical Romance’s last album had a couple of experiments with electropop) and Lordi have become nothing but an answer to a pub quiz question.

In spite of all this, what becomes clear as show time gets closer is that there are a core number of fans who’ve continued to follow the band and it also becomes clear that possibly every single Finnish person in London has come here. The quick fire bursts of We Might Fall Apart and Second Soul as openers sets a fast and furious pace that is maintained throughout the course of an hour that flies by.

Despite the fact that their fifth album, Warriors, is set to be released in their native country the following day, Disco Ensemble spend most of the evening treating their audience to something of a ‘greatest hits’ set. Aside from Second Soul and main set closer Your Shadow, the rest consists of a bunch of fan favourites. The tireless energy of Death Letter Typewriter and Bad Luck Charm are stand outs, while Black Euro sounds gloriously anthemic.

Singer Miikka Koivisto is a hugely watchable presence. He’s not one to stand still and he spends most of his time bouncing around the tiny stage, prowling near its very edge in order to get the most fevered reaction possible from his devoted following. So loud are the hardcore fans near the front, he applauds them often for their efforts. When he’s not doing any of that, he’s playing his keyboards with a ton of urgency and ferocity. He’s backed by an extremely solid and muscular engine room in Mikko Hakila and Lasse Lindfors whilst guitarist Jussi Ylikoski’s riffs and melodies – unfussy yet deadly – are frenetic and exhilarating.

There’s a new wave of Finnish exports who are single-handedly trying to disprove its heavy roots with all kinds of electronica and experimental pop. However, no matter how much you try to sweep it under the carpet, its beating heart will always be power chords and pounding riffs. Disco Ensemble sit stubbornly at the helm, doing what they do best – which is not just comforting and reassuring but also very loud.

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Disco Ensemble @ Barfly, London