Thursday, 29 October 2009

LIVE REVIEW: Efterklang perform Parades with the Britten Sinfonia

As the Barbican falls to a hush, the oboe plays its A and the rest of the Britten Sinfonia follow suit with the familiar, comforting and hall-filling sound of an orchestra tuning up. It's was at that point when it dawned on me that tonight could be very special indeed.

Having already performed their much acclaimed album of 2007 with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra (now a DVD and live album) and with the Britten Sinfonia, Efterklang were in a new comfort zone here. Rather than the band playing front and center -- with orchestra behind -- they assimilated themselves in amongst assembled throng of strings, brass and woodwind to become part of the orchestra, rather than a band backed by one. Leading from the front was conductor Paul Hoskins; from the back of the stage Efterklang front man Casper Clausen conducted his men and women -- a picture childish smiles.

Parades obviously lends itself well to being played with an orchestra, the album having strings and brass dappled over all its tracks -- a duty normally replicated live by Peter Broderick (violin), Niklas Antonson (Trombone and tap shoes) and Thomas Husmer (trumpet and drums). What lifted this performance above the obvious width of sound when replicating these songs with an orchestra was the arrangement itself. Stings doubled vocals while brass picked up on bass lines; strings were plucked, picked and scraped en masse to create a canvas of sounds that was part of the performance, not merely an accompaniment.

Even though the band seemed very comfortable in amongst the orchestra it did, I feel, take away from the energy you normally get from an Efterklang solo show. However, this was by no means a normal Efterklang show.

With Parades now performed in its entirety a number of times one can only think what influences this is having on one of the most inventive and stand-alone act of the moment. A new album is promised for the Spring. Those that were there had a little sneak peak during the encore. Glorious.


Efterklang & The Danish National Chamber Orchestra - Cutting Ice To Snow (live) from Leaf Label on Vimeo.

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