Ane Brun, King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, 9/11/11
Oh my goodness, that was a surprise.
I expected to be mildly entertained by another idiosyncratic Norwegian singer, ticking off a bit more Scandinavian wonky-pop. What I got instead was one of the highlight concerts of the year and a live introduction to a singer I’m going to be listening to pretty much constantly for the forseeable future.
Ane Brun and her band are just wonderful. There’s little mainstream about her, though, like Susanne Sundfør, she’s capable of some damned fine tunes. Forget that – utterly mesmerising tunes. She relies on that Scandinavian thing of setting up a rhythm section (three drum kits on a stage the size of a postage stamp) that is quite capable of rearranging an audience’s internal organs, and lays wash after wash of transcendent ambience over it, and then piles on top of that a voice that is pure, pitch perfect and astonishingly engaging. The result is the biggest, widest, deepest, broadest soundstage I think I’ve ever heard in a venue this intimate and in many that are much bigger.
And it’s gorgeous. I don’t know enough of the songs to rhyme them off – I will soon – but one after another has me muttering “Jesus” at the end of yet another wringing out of the senses and emotions. The new album – “It All Starts With One” – features heavily. The single “Do You Remember” is a thundering drum-driven pagan thrashing: if you don’t dance your bollocks off to it, you are clearly in need of urgent hospitalisation. And she ends with “Undertow” which just soars and soars and soars and when you think it can’t soar any higher – up it fucking well goes.
Brun herself is lovely. She’s very beautiful – those eyes! – but much more attractive is her enigmatic charisma, warmth and obvious delight at the roaring reception she gets. I dunno – I reckon she would be perfect in the part of a Norwegian Resistance agent in a World War 2 movie. I haven’t a clue where that came from, but it’s stuck there now.
I don’t know where this will come in my end of year top five gig list, but it will be in there somewhere. Easily. Ane Brun is a singer I must have more of. Must, must, must, must. Definitely. Must.
Do you think I liked this a wee bit?
Footnote: Support is supplied by a member of her band, Linnea Olsson, who is excellent. A solo cellist and vocalist, she loops, samples, overdubs to produce a quite lovely sound. Definitely worth checking out on You Tube, bearing in mind that the compression ruins the hugeness of her sound.