Live Music + Gig Reviews

Lorraine @ 100 Club, London

15 March 2006

Lorraine are neither a lady nor a quiche. Singer Ole Gunnar Gundersen, synths-n-bits guru Paal Myran Haaland and guitarist Anders Winsents are instead named after Marty McFly’s mum in Back To The Future. They are a sharply styled three-piece from Norway’s most musically productive city, Bergen.

Newly signed to Columbia, tonight’s gig is the boys’ first tilt at headlining in London, the UK’s most musically saturated city. The subterranean venue’s battered appearance contrasts vividly with the twentysomethings’ sombre, Joy Division-like black shirts, purple ties and slacks. It’s as though somebody dressed them to say: “We are artists and we’re bigger than this place.” Well they might be – a fairly full audience area alludes to the stir their label has already created, without so much as releasing anything.

Paal, bouncing along merrily between tape reels, synth bank and sundry other gadgets under a baseball cap to stage right, seems to have modelled himself on Pet Shop Boys‘ Chris Lowe. In the centre, the wasp-waisted Ole is a mix of Eurodisco windmill moves, emotive indie scowls and hair gel. He likes cameras – whenever a lens points at him he performs directly to it, and more than once his antics raise smiles.

In the corner of stage left, far removed from his bandmates, stands Anders, defiantly wearing trainers with his otherwise identikit Lorraine uniform. A groomed blond fringe curves round his impossibly chiselled, honeyed visage as he strums nonchalantly on his big red guitar. If Lorraine fail, this vision will find a ready career strutting along Milanese runways as a clothes horse.

But Lorraine aren’t just style. In quick succession they rattle through a slew of wannabe pop hits whose sensibilities owe more to the Pet Shop Boys than to anything else out of Bergen (Kings of Convenience they decidedly are not). The next single, I Feel It, would be at home on New Order‘s last album, with its big, singalong chorus and prettily ambling verses. Ole thanks everyone “very very very much” several times. Anders, still in the corner, remains expressionless as they stride euphorically through Transatlantic Flight.

They save the best till last. Beautiful Thing is the definition of going out with a bang – the gay press will doubtless be left to decide if it alludes to a play and film by Jonathan Harvey. “We’re all about big atmosphere, big sounds, big songs. We always wanted everything to be very big,” Paal is alleged to have uttered. Style, tunes, markets and ambition all checked then, Lorraine are ready for a pop adventure to begin. If enough music fans in 2006 still hanker after ’80s synthpop with a new wave edge, it could be a ride worth catching.

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Lorraine @ 100 Club, London