Monday, September 19, 2011


New-ish band, think they used to be Deaf To Van Gogh’s Ear, suspect a bit art-rock” went the pre-gig information sharing about tonight’s support band New Hips. Still not sure which of these pieces of info is accurate - other than the last. The four piece – two guitars, drums and synth plus occasional trumpet, electric bass and second drum/percussion – played a hyper-intense math-rock (advanced calculus?) that was so fast and layered (and loud) it was difficult to keep pace with. A short six song set that set my head spinning and of which I’m still not sure what to make – but the twin drumming in the final song was thrilling enough to encourage me to seek more (currently just one video available here I think).

I first saw I’m From Barcelona four years ago at a sun-lit End of the Road Festival. Surely that heart-warming mid-afternoon festival atmosphere couldn’t be repeated indoors even given the band’s the massed indie-pop tunefulness and child-like optimism? We’ve both moved on since then and the Swedish band (27 members in full version, 12 on tour here) have also gone through the difficult second album with the more downbeat melancholia of ‘Who Killed Harry Houdini?’.

Whatever led to that dip in spirits was not evident here tonight. Dapper of dress (lots of braces, waistcoats, skinny ties, two-tone shoes) and gracious of welcome despite the low numbers in attendance, the band instantly exuded an upbeat warmth and playfulness – a snatch of ‘Freebird’, an impromptu jazz interlude and ignoring the (printed) playlist to respond to audience requests. The bonhomie of happy songs about childhood games, the Eiffel tower, listening to music and other simple pleasures was taken to another level eight songs in however: as though from nowhere, the Ruby Lounge and the audience were showered with fluttering red ticker tape and colourful giant balloons for the song ‘Come On’. "Upbeat" went off the happiness scale. The energy of the band – and not just the party embellishments - was highly infectious and utterly irresistible. Oh yes you could recreate that festival spirit plus add in Christmas and New Year celebrations too.

Songs from the first album – especially an epic ‘We’re From Barcelona’ – drew the biggest cheers but such was the joy and spirit of community that even the less familiar tunes from this year’s low-key release (I didn’t even know there was a third album until last month) led to mass singalongs and linked arm pogo-ing. Leader Emanuel Lundgren is a witty and lively frontman but it really is a collective effort to generate this much delirium. Silly me to doubt the power of I’m From Barcelona – a live band not be missed whatever the setting and whatever the critical response (or lack of it) to their recordings. The final encore – of five - was ‘Forever Today’ a song written Emanuel said because he knew one day this would come to an end (“no-one wants to become The Rolling Stones”) but for now they will cherish the present. And it’s true: I’m From Barcelona play every gig as though it could be their last. Barcelona loves you. And we should be very, very grateful for it.

The Set List:

Get In Line
Charlie Parker
Always Spring
This Boy
Come On
Dr Landy
We’re From Barcelona
Barcelona Loves You
Game Is On
The Painter
Paper Planes
Forever Today

No comments: