tremble clef

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Kings Of Convenience, "Free Falling (Live In Roma)" (2001)

I'm not a huge fan of live recordings: certainly not bootlegs with their dubious pedigree and shady quality, but even official live albums or tracks induce a "meh" in me. But this track -- concert in Roma, Kings Of Convenience, covering Tom Petty's "Free Falling," issued as the b-side to "Failure" -- is worth making an exception for, and perhaps my favorite live recording. The arrangement (a simple guitar, accompanying the band's harmonies) transforms the song, of course, but more so the audience's backing vocals: the final two minutes features the crowd singing, with perfect pitch, "Free falling, and I'm..." When I first heard this, I thought it was an actual choir on stage with Erlend and Eirik, but when the backing vocals finally fall apart in sheer delirium, it becomes more apparent that it's not.

As that track suggests, Kings Of Convenience are pretty great at getting their audience involved, and that was the case at their show on Thursday. I was a little worried about the setting: the band was playing what was essentially a world music (bleurgh) festival, in a polite orchestral concert hall (one with good acoustics, though). And indeed, they opened the evening on an "inaccessible" note, doing a track off their "Playing Live In A Room" EP ("Until You Understand") that only the more hardcore fans would have known.

But things warmed up soon enough. Erlend was his natural hammy self, and Eirik really impressed those who were previously inclined to thinking of Erlend as the main voice of the band. The middle section of the gig was when the magical audience participation started. It began with the band doing "Know How," one of my absolute favorite KOC songs: Erlend eventually encouraged the audience to sing the "you and me alone/sheer simplicity" lines, thereby allowing me to fulfill my ambition of being Feist. From there the interaction increased: Eirik told us that Toby, their usual viola player, couldn’t travel from Norway to play his part on "Stay Out Of Trouble," so we therefore dutifully filled in with whistling. Here, the tendency of any concert audience to never be able to sustain something -- always hilarious: it's like we find the act of clapping continuously for three minutes impossible -- actually worked to the song's advantage. The whistling was stronger in some moments than others, but this simply meant that it had the effect of fading in and out of the song eerily.

Their performance of "Homesick" was participatory in a different sense: joking that they wanted to create a "Christmas atmosphere" for the song, they asked for the house lights to be completely turned down. And so they were, as Erlend and Eirik proceeded to play their guitars in the dark (jokingly hitting a few bum notes at the start), thereby forcing the audience to really, really do nothing but listen to the song echoing in the concert hall. And when that song's chorus is "Homesick/Cause I no longer know/Where home is," the effect was almost unbearably poignant.

The show ended, naturally enough, with "I'd Rather Dance With You," and Erlend proceeded to fuck with the concert hall atmosphere by getting everyone up on our feet and some people to bum rush the stage. Heh. Against the protestations of some well-dressed ushers, a bunch of women got on stage, whereupon they...then lost any sense of what they should do, it seemed. They decided to form a circle and dance, so suddenly it was goddamn Lilith Fair. I half expected an earth goddess to be conjured up, but it was not to be.

During "Misread," Eirik asked the crowd to hum three notes at the end of the song. Like an asshole, I actually tried to harmonize on those solitary three notes. What can I say? I was moved by the spirit was desirous of making beautiful music. It was almost enough to get me dancing around in a circle and swirling like Stevie Nicks.

(Bonus: They ended the show with their marvellous cover -- marvellous because it does away with the original's heavy metal guitars and shrieking chorus -- of a-ha's "Manhattan Skyline." In the audience was a reader of this blog, who, it turned out, was hearing this version for the first time, even though he CLAIMS to be a fan of both KOC and a-ha. Oh, the shame. So, here is the song, for him.)


  • OhMyGodYouGotToBeFeist*And*RhiannonYouCanDieHappyNow!!!!

    By Anonymous esque, at 10:40 PM  

  • Well, no. I have yet to attend a concert by Lionel Richie at which I join him in a duet of "Endless Love." After that, then, yes, come on down, Death!

    By Blogger Brittle, at 2:42 PM  

  • Great minds thnk alike! This Petty cover is on my ipod and is one of my FAVE KoC recordings. The audience part gives me CHILLS every time. Gorgeous. It really proves correct the great philosopher who sais "Music makes the people come together"!

    By Blogger xolondon, at 12:07 AM  

  • That a-ha cover was the perfect ending for a surprisingly enjoyable concert (yes I am the untrue a-ha/KoC fan...
    Still, I am a true Depeche mode fan, and I would like to confirm here that Martin Gore recently discovered that his father is black (information that Brittle lemon refused to believe).

    By Anonymous Arnault, at 6:22 PM  

  • I believe you.

    PS: Jordy is dead.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 7:00 PM  

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