Powerful and exhilarating, a triumphant return to London
Although it’s a little out of the way, Bush Hall is a venue well worth the trip. Small but grand and lit by chandeliers, you could easily be tricked into thinking someone had broken into an old disused building to put on a gig, if it weren’t for the well-stocked bar and powerful heating system.
Walking into the main hall about three quarters of the way through Denis Jones’ set, I was shocked to find most of the audience sitting on the floor. Sure, it was a very nice carpet, but I’m used to venues where you don’t even pick up your change if you drop it.
On the cramped stage, Jones sat hunched over an acoustic guitar, surrounded by equipment, which he used to build looped accompaniments to his rhythmic folk songs. Think Alexander Tucker without the penchant for drone metal and you’re getting there.
Next up was more looping from Peter Broderick, although his take on it was very different. Similar to the piano and field recording compositions of Library Tapes but taking the idea so much further, the incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist created rich string sections with a lone violin, added minimalist piano lines and plucked beautifully at an acoustic guitar.
Transferring himself to a grand piano in front of the stage to finish his set, as members of Efterklang and the audience took over a vocal phrase he had begun, everyone was left stunned and I can’t have been the only person to have thought Efterklang were going to have to work very hard to top him. Although perhaps not, as everyone at this point stood up and pushed forward in expectation.
The thought still rattling around my head, at least, the eight members of Efterklang’s live band (which currently includes Peter Broderick on violin) arrived on stage – the men all decked out in black shirts and grey breeches pulled high by white braces, pianist Anna Brønsted in an elegant red dress. They launched into Polygyne, the opening track from the recently released album Parades and straight away we knew that this was going to be something special.
Classical, electronica, prog, post-rock; none of these tags alone describes Efterklang’s sound. Even together they lack something, because they don’t get across the magic of composition and performance this band achieve. On Parades over 30 different musicians contributed, but packed onto this tiny stage, just eight managed to make the songs even more powerful.
Clearly genuinely excited and amazed by how many people had turned up to see them and the extremely positive response they received, the performance became ever more passionate as the night drew on. Band leader Casper Clausen, looking like a young Mike Patton, was unable to stop himself from grinning throughout the whole set. As the band’s energy grew, so too did the audience’s. Towards the end, the gaps between songs caused by ever longer bouts of applause seriously threatened to break up the flow of the show.
Most of the songs were taken from Parades, including Mirador, Horseback Tenors, Caravan and Cutting Ice To Snow, which saw the chattier members of the audience angrily shushed into silence. Tripper was also well-represented, with Swarming, Collecting Shields and Step Aside closing the main set. Returning for an encore, the band played Chapter 6, also from the debut album, and got the audience singing for the second time that evening.
And then it all came gently and quietly to a close. For a few moments both audience and band stared sheepishly at each other, aware that there would and should be no more but still not quite ready to leave. Then we remembered ourselves and brought the night to an end with one more roar of applause.
This review originally appeared on Subba Cultcha