Expectations were high, going into my first church-concert in Aarhus, which happened to feature one of my absolute heroes. They were never really met, even though this tour de force in the back catalog of Bellens work was a constant reminder of his amazing songwriting.
The first third of the concert gave a solid impression of what to expect throughout the show; songs from both I Got You On Tape’s four albums, the three solo albums of Jacob Bellens and from the various projects, that he’s been a part of. Performed on either piano or guitar. The first third, though, didn’t bring that “wow”-feeling, that I expected from a ‘Bellens in a church’-concert. The sound seemed too low and dry, something that was fixed during the concert, but still had a negative impact on the first part of the show.
It all started making sense, as we were presented with a piano version of ‘Polyester Skin’, which was absolutely incredible, and was followed by my favorite of the day, ‘Do You Have Anything Harder?’, from an EP of the same name released a few years back. This trilogy of songs was ended with ‘Waking Up The Brotherhood’ from Spinning for the Cause. With these three songs, the concert reached an early peak – or maybe even the best part of the concert. Here, his voice sounded amazeballs, the lyrics gave an impression of a man seeking comfort, forgiveness or advise from the church and it was quite impossible not to fall in love with the man and his music. And many of those who’d spent 250 DKK on the show had no choice but to listen closely to the music, as not everyone could get a glimpse of the man performing. The solution; sit back, close your eyes, listen. It must have been a pleasure for Jacob playing in front of this audience.
And yes, it does sound solemn and all, but Jacob Bellens did his very best to create a relaxed setting. I’ve seen him perform many times, and he’s never seemed all that comfortable talking in between songs, and definitely not using that time to talk feelings and such. Songs are presented as, well, songs, and stories about on what they were written, like iPads or computers or pianos, instead of on what “feelings” or life stories they were written on. It made it way more comfortable for a guy like me to be sitting in the church.
As with most of my experiences with this guy, I always end up grateful to once again having heard a live version of ‘Somersault’, from the second album of I Got You On Tape. It must be a candidate to one of the best songs coming out of this country, ever. It was my first time hearing, though, that it was the last song to be written for this album and sort of just came to him in the last minute. A bit surprising, as it sounds like a song you would build up an entire album or even career on.
The last notable highlight came with an acoustic version of ‘Untouchable’ from Polyester Skin, released in 2016. This simple piano-version really made space for the lyrics, and the walls of the church did the same with his voice. I’ve never been much of a fan of this particular song, but that seems changed by now. The problem was, though, that when reaching the end of the concert, we’d been giving more than an hour of Bellens, without being able to see the man, but instead just sitting as comfortably as you can in a church, with your eyes closed. I get tired, man! Maybe a few extra instruments or an extra musician on stage could’ve helped, I don’t know. The bottom line is, that I had a good time, but I never experienced that feeling, that I usually get at a Bellens concert. Something was a bit off, and it might have been the venue and the sound difficulties, but it sort of made it difficult to justify spending 250 DKK.
It was an absolute pleasure being thrown around into the back catalog of this man's incredible songwriting, but the whole church concert-thing didn't live up to its expectations. (4/6)