Live Music + Gig Reviews

Gus Gus @ KOKO, London

1 October 2015

Gus Gus

Gus Gus

You’ve got to hand it to Gus Gus. Not for them the trappings of extravagant light shows, 3D projections or even live instruments. What we get instead is basically two singers and a backliner – and yet the whole is so much greater than the sum of the parts. The Icelandic collective have now clocked up two decades of electronic wizardry, with a line-up that appears to change like musical chairs. Yet somehow they have kept their identity, with slinky grooves, ultra cool bass lines and slick, four to the floor beats that succeed in whirling the front rows of Koko into a mass of moving limbs.

Mind you, vocalist Daníel Ágúst Haraldsson appears to have dressed with expectations of a cold spell. Pashmina draped over his shoulders, he arrives at the front sporting a black and white suit that would not be out of place on TRON Legacy. With chiselled cheekbones even more defined in the half light, he looks every inch the electro group vocalist – and crucially has the voice to match.

What issues forth is a series of sultry songs, presented with a compelling sense of theatre. Songs stretch towards and sometimes pass the 10 minute mark and very few outstay their welcome. The pashmina has a part to play, Haraldsson wrapping himself in it for what appears to be a brief a Charles Munch tribute, before whirling it around his head as the music sharpens its edge.

Joining Haraldsson on stage is Högni Egilsson, whose long bright blond hair and full beard and moustache contrast with his fellow vocalist’s smooth features. His first number is a polished Obnoxiously Sexual, the liquid grooves working their magic to rumble beneath the Koko floor. Few London gig venues are as rewarding for a dance, and when the lights occasionally go up a sea of raised arms and closed eyes is the view.

There is, however an Earth-shaped hole, the vocalist no longer part of Gus Gus, but missed in songs like Over, despite the deeply felt performance it gets here. Thankfully this does not compromise the inner strength of the band’s songs, for the lace-clad Biggi Veira, the beating heart of this operation, guides the crowd ever so gradually into a frenzy from his desk of electronics, overseeing songs like the stirring Arabian Horse.

On tonight’s evidence, Gus Gus are in rude health, and treat Koko to a lengthy encore featuring Moss and Add This Song. In so doing they show just how the band can sustain and build a groove. Many could still learn from their craft.

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