Live Music + Gig Reviews

Peter Von Poehl @ Soho Revue Bar, London

22 October 2007

A young, very skinny gentlemen, dressed head to toe in black, one eye peaking through his blonde mop, walks onto the stage. Peter Von Poehl looks very young for his 33 years, and rather lonely.

He sounds pretty young and lonely too. He squeaks away with a voice that lies somewhere between Phil Collins and a pair or maracas. When he opens his mouth, out comes this slightly nasal waif wraith of a voice. The falsetto is incredibly, delicately taut and although he is capable of a rasping tenor it is in the upper registers that he prefers to keep singing.

He has a pretty, staccato approach and the songs are succinct, with repetitive lyrics which start to irritate once the first three songs are over. But having said that, one can barely understand a thing he is singing for his poor enunciation.

Von Poehl plays both the electric and the acoustic guitar during his set and occasionally steels himself to play harmonica. He is competent at all three but the melodies feel very closely related to lullabies. They are dreamy set pieces, a beautiful mission to set yourself and even to accomplish but such projects are not intended to stimulate an audience.

However each piece of the performance is lovingly rendered. The sparing blues of his Heartbreak Hotel cover is effective. Accompanied by the enigmatic Charlie O on the keyboard for Lost In Space, they manage an intelligent composition which didn’t exhaust the already tired theme of the cosmos. It’s not paying homage to or a pastiche of other artists, but it feels like David Bowie-lite.

He works a boyish wonderment pinching electronic textures from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and it adds to the charm, bringing a tender sense of humour and a warmth. The Great Escape (a cinematic theme is surely developing here) is another track espousing the need to get away, to travel, to escape. He is a fantasist, but it’s not translating to the audience.

His tribute to another pop hero, Kylie‘s Can’t Get You Out of My Head, was by far the most interesting thing that he accomplished for the whole set. Peter von Poehl: Mysterious, lovely. But just a bit dull.

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Peter Von Poehl @ Soho Revue Bar, London