Photo by Hasan Jensen (Homage Photography)
Voxhall was certainly the place to be on this dank and nasty December night – where Velvet volume and The Raveonettes both put on solid shows for the diverse and appreciative audience.
It’ almost become a tradition of sorts – The Raveonettes playing a show around the Christmas season here in Aarhus. Whether it’s planned that way or happenstance – the local crowds turn out in droves and have their senses blasted for an hour by one of Denmark’s most loved live acts. Musically – the Raveonettes live show is always great, but this performance left me, and anyone else actually there for the wonderful music – with loads of technical questions. More on that a bit later…
Velvet Volume took the stage at 9 sharp. The rumblings of their opening number – a riff heavy jam – were already rattling the oil drum tables and foggy spectacled masses coming in to ditch their coats and get a light pat-down from security. I’m happy to report that no automatic weapons made it in. we were safe – at least from gunfire – not from the blast of the teenage sister act – Velvet Volume. Velvet Volume are a pretty hyped act at the moment – but like most hyped acts, they just don’t have the live charisma or material yet to back it up. They are very young though and can hopefully only get better. The sound desk was positively maxed as the girls bumbled through their half hour or so set – riffs and singing. There is not much substance to this promising group yet that I could decipher.
The stage was cleared of just about everything except for a drum kit, a MacBook and two banks of pedals. The Raveonettes have always had a very minimal approach to their live shows – amps hidden away – almost in secret as to not give us gear geeks a chance to see how the hell Sune Wagner gets those sounds out of his equipment. I was surprised and delighted to see an actual drum kit on stage – now whether or not anyone had to play it however was up for debate.
The Raveonettes’ hour-long set was derived from a hefty mix of hits and peppered with a few tracks from last years fantastic Pe’Ahi LP. I wished they played a few more (I think they put forth 3 numbers from it) from the record – but alas – this show was to be the crowd-pleasing hits – and very pleased were most of the crowd.
The crowd indeed! Voxhall was jammed to the rafters of a surprisingly diverse mix of young and old. It seems like a lot of parents even may have took their teenage family to the show – the younger attendees slipping away up to the front and dancing – the more vintage folk heading up to the safety of the balcony. It is very difficult to talk over the absolute wall of noise that Raveonettes emit from stage though – and if you’re not a fan of strobe lighting – you probably had a shit night – as nearly the entire hour was a strobe fest – bathing the audience in white and dark flashes. It’s almost hypnotizing in a way – much like the band’s music.
The set itself was steadily balanced between popular numbers (Last Dance, Great love sound..) and deep cuts from earlier records (Attack of the ghost riders, Somewhere in Texas) – they even performed a Christmas song for us (I wish that I could Stay). The Raveonettes seemed confident to pull anything out of their catalogue and be able to perform it – however due to the heavy use of backing tracks and programming – there was not much room for an inspired improvisation or anything that transcended the originals.
That’s the big dilemma when it comes to seeing The Raveonettes – I mean – they are so good and have such a unique body of work – yet – they rarely play as a full band with actual humans playing the music. This show, more than the average annual Christmas gigs, seemed to fall a bit flat – due to the fact that the drums, keys, and various other bells and whistles were pre-recorded. At times – Wagner would put down his guitar and sing with just a mic – then it was pretty evident that Sharin was just mimicking something pre-recorded on her guitar. We’re off to see the wizard. It really shatters people’s illusions I believe – however – I say I’m conflicted on this because the sound was just so damn good. Even if it is fairly obvious that moments of the concert were just Raveonettes singing Raveonettes karaoke, the end result is still better than most shows you can go see in this town!
My favorite moment of the show was their first song after a quick break before the encore, “Recharge And Revolt” – the first song from 2011’s “Raven In The Grave”. The drummer picked up Sune’s guitar and Wagner got behind the kit for a while – he didn’t play – but listened as his band played one of his most personal songs around him. He leapt up and sang unadorned by an instrument with his mic. He put forth a blast of energy – which is a rare sight for this man – and really put his heart into “Recharge”. He was shaking hands with the crowd and throwing his arms up like a preacher in Alabama. This is something I’ve never witnessed from him before. The band played another early number from “Whip It On” I believe – more strobes and smoke – and then were gone.
After the show I did meet a few people who thought the same as I did: “why do they use playback so much?” It’s not like it’s done blatantly or in bad taste – but it almost feels like it’s cheating the audience – who payed over 250 krone to witness this. I still think it was worth it – but why can’t one of Scandinavia’s most popular bands just flesh it out with some humans and play it for real? Maybe I shall openly challenge the Raveonettes:
Thank you again for your wonderful music! This is a friendly challenge though, should you choose to accept. You have a year – come back to Voxhall with a full band and put on the concert of our lives! We love your songs so much – we just want to see them get what they deserve!
Much love and respect,
Tammy Toledo – Sound Of Aarhus.
P.S. – I loved “Recharge and Revolt” last night. That made me feel warm and fuzzy. – TT.
The set itself was steadily balanced between popular numbers and deep cuts from earlier records – they even performed a Christmas song for us. The Raveonettes seemed confident to pull anything out of their catalogue and be able to perform it, however, due to the heavy use of backing tracks and programming there was not much room for an inspired improvisation or anything that transcended the originals. (4/6)