Live Reviews

Reykjavik Nights @ Luminaire, London

17 June 2007


Bjork. Until tonight, that’s all I could have said about Icelandic music. But since I went to Reykjavik Nights, I can’t shut up about it. I have never been to the glacial north but if this barnstorming musical showcase is anything to go by, I would never come back.

First up to dazzle the Icelandic ex-pats and in-the-know Londoners, was honorary Icelander for the night, Tim Ten Yen, who played whimsical experimental electro pop. A euphoric mix of the Pet Shop Boys meets the poetical high jinks of John Hegley, accompanied by earnest synth playing and tightly choreographed dance moves, it was a fabulous 80s throw back, and Yen is a cult figure in the making.

Aela arrived on stage looking like they had just raided the dresser, prepped as a nurse in fishnets, a masked ball reveler, and a baby in a nappy – it was all just a little tiresome. All they did was scream into their mics which made us seek refuge on the leather banquettes at the bank of the venue.

This was not high pitched screaming, but the kind of prolonged, agonising cries of primordial man. Their collective pain could have emanated from the fact that barely into the second bar of their first song, the diaper wearing lead man, after screaming his way through the crowd, and hurling himself back on to the stage via a precariously placed chair, missed his footing, fell, and smashed his guitar clean in two. A replacement was soon found, more to the pity, as it meant the show had to go on.

But it was glam demi-gods Trabant who have left me proselytising. Their lead singer is dressed as captain Birdseye, the drummer wore nothing more than a beer belly over some savagely tight black lycra cycling shorts, and then there was the bling bedecked DJ, who proved his rock and roll excess by sticking a live firework sparkler between his teeth.

But the strengths are in the tunes, not just in the showmanship and performance art. I defy you not to fall for Iceland’s answer to the Scissor Sisters crossed with the The Divine Comedy.

If the onstage charisma doesn’t grab you and stick it’s tongue down your throat, you’ll be drawn in by their mix of euphoric pop, sexy glam rock, tongue in cheek power ballads and quasi-mosh pit anthems. An awesome evening which definitely won a few converts


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