Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Efterklang @ Academy 3, Friday 25th February 2011

Each time Efterklang return to these shores it seems that they’ve embarked on a new elaborate artistic project. Previously it was the full orchestration of highly acclaimed album Parades; this time, the band use the slot usually offered to a support band by taking the chance to display their latest endeavour, their debut film, which is directed by Vincent Moon of La Blogotheque fame. Technical mishaps dictate that for the first half of the film the subtitles read backwards, eventually amended by a man fiddling about with the on-screen menu, but for the most part the film isn’t about the words, it’s about the sounds.

Rumbling into life with overwhelming sub bass and a series of natural sound recordings it’s a feast for the ears that shows great promise. However, it soon develops into what is seemingly an extended La Blogotheque showcase with a few self-referential nods to the band’s childhood and, in a similar way to Sigur Rós’s Heima, we find the band performing acoustic versions of tracks in a whole variety of locations, including a school backed by a high-five happy children’s choir.

The highlight however is the performance of ‘Alike’ in an old barn where apparently the band used to rehearse. Primarily focused on frontman Casper Clausen, as the song progresses the camera gradually pans out to reveal the band with a whole host of performers wielding an array of instruments, including not only trumpets and drums, but also bursting balloons and a broom being swept percussively. The song progresses and develops to a euphoric climax and it is this inventiveness and versatility that really portrays the essence of the band; creative thinkers who want to express their music in a considered and joyous way, and who better to help realise that on film than a man who spends his life capturing bands performing in creative spaces.

So now onto the main event and, as much as I enjoyed the film, it’s no match for the real thing. The band are welcomed onto the stage with a very warm welcome, performing to their largest Mancunian audience yet, but it takes until around the fifth song in, curiously the bleep and beat heavy ‘Step Aside’, for the crowd to really start getting excited. As the band introduce ‘Soft Beating’ you begin to realise you are experiencing something very special. This group of multi-instrumentalists perform their music with such ease and joy it’s a pleasure to experience; each musician’s part has its place without doing too much, but is somehow absolutely vital to the whole, as the songs hang together with a musical chemistry more reminiscent of classical composition than indie rock.

With Casper Clausen dictating proceedings, we are treated to a superb collection of tracks from their now extensive back catalogue and as they leave the stage the crowd beg for more. On their return, Clausen whispers through the beginning of ‘Cutting Ice to Snow’, the crowd are left with bated breath by what is perceived to be a dramatic pause, but actually turns out to be the band trying to hear Europe performing ‘The Final Countdown’ in the venue downstairs, which prompts a number of self versed renditions from the audience, a mischievous move which only goes to show their absolute joy at performing their creations to an adoring audience.

As the band bring their set to a close it’s with regret that I have to turn and leave; I could watch this band all day. Hopefully it won’t be long until we see them again, and who knows what sort of endeavours they’ll get up to between now and then?

Words & Images: Simon Bray

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