...a unity of eyes and firelight...

Efterklang

In Live Reviews, Music on April 13, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Sunday,  7 November

Academy 2, Liverpool

After all the recent anti-hipster press, I was slightly concerned when Efterklang emerged on stage.  While there were six members of the band, the eyes were immediately drawn to the front man and bassist, Caspar Clausen and Rasmus Stolberg, both tall, skinny and handsome, and both immaculately presented in the finest hipster garb.  Skinny slacks, slim-fitting shirts, side partings and moustaches.  Oh, the moustaches.

Thankfully, any latent apprehension that was present evaporated as soon as Clausen opened his mouth.  Clearly genuinely delighted to even be here, and expressing surprise to see so many people out on a Sunday, he immediately had the good will of the crowd.

My previous experience of seeing them had been three years ago at the Roadhouse in Manchester, where they had surprised me with the energy they had on stage.  Tonight, they surprised me with that energy again.  While the albums are wonderfully and crisply produced, they are unable to convey either the charisma of the band as performers or the energising power of the choral element in the music.  Of the six band members on stage, only one – Mads Brauer on ‘electronics’ – does not sing.  This creates an irresistible, uplifting force comparable to the music of the Arcade Fire.  This choral element is not used quite as often in the songs from the new album, Magic Chairs, which explores an art-rock side to the band, reminiscent of Talking Heads, which had only been hinted at before.

The band have followed a reverse trajectory to many bands in the sense that their first two albums, Springer and Tripper, featured other-worldly, ambient electronica that recalled Sigur Ros in its expansive soundscape.  This was followed by a tightening of the song structure on following albums, leading to a more pop-oriented sound that realigned them closer in genre to post-rock mixed with alt-folk, as well as one album – Parades – being re-recorded with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra, producing an admirable but somewhat overblown production.

So fans of Efterklang’s earlier work would have been wondering what we would get tonight.  And what we got was a masterful interweaving of tracks from every stage of Efterklang’s career, with Clausen’s gracious smile and intense stare building rapport with the crowd before plunging into the more demanding of the songs.  This reached its zenith with the bright white lights back-lighting the band, so that an image of Clausen perched on a speaker in silhouette was seared on our minds as he whispered to a silent, gawping crowd.

There was more whispering to come from both him and Heather Woods Broderick, with Clausen having to pause halfway through one line to express his shock at how attentive we were.  ‘You guys are amazing,’ he told us, in his charming Danish accent.

No Mr Clausen, you guys are.

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