Everyone knows this sold out Efterklang gig at the brilliant Barbican is going to be epic, but the reality far exceeds expectation. It’s immense, beautiful, spell-binding.
The Danish band’s music alone is a thing of wonder, but tonight they are joined by the Northern Sinfonia - a full string and brass orchestra - to perform the whole of recent release ‘Piramida’ and more. It brings a whole new dimension to the words “Wow, that was a good gig.”
Singer Casper Clausen looks like a cooler carbon copy of Matt Smith’s Dr Who, including tweed jacket and dicky bow. He seems constantly overwhelmed by the endearing reaction he receives as he croons his way through the album. The show marks the end of a mini tour with the orchestra and he celebrates by sitting at the back of the stage and listening to his extended band or climbing over the seats of the front stalls with the biggest of grins on his face.
Casper’s voice almost sounds like a cross between Guy Garvey and Morten Harket, but in a really, really good way! Here, he’s backed by three wonderful female singers (and a fellow band member) who bring an almost operatic vibe to the show. They blend with the rich cellos that glide like melted chocolate and the cascading flutes and violins that turn the band’s usual “mood” music into some kind of momentous film score. It’s almost unbelievable that the sound they make is happening right here before our eyes and ears.
The horns in ‘The Ghost’ are just pure heaven while ‘Black Summer’ is dark and atmospheric, soulful and euphoric. ‘Between the Walls’ even brings an element of funk into the mix, which creates a fascinating battle with the strings. The night is also dotted with Efterklang’s subtle splashes of electro that blip and buzz over the exquisite percussion and subtle touches of musical imagery, like the squawking of seagulls.
But it’s undeniable that, tonight, the orchestra brings something new and wonderful to the band, which is already renowned for using strings and brass to add layers to its sound. Its performance seems to turn the songs into stories that whisk you away into some kind of mountainous landscape. There are moments of booming noise and pin-drop silence and, from the look of the band (and the rapturous reaction from the crowd), they still can’t quite believe that they’re part of it.
Words by Gemma Hampson
Photos by Anna Kroeger