This was an excellent night for some electronic pop, Norwegian style. First up were the Strange Talk DJ’s, doing a seventy-five minute set. They were met with a great amount of indifference by the arriving crowd. Displaying no charisma or connection whatsoever with the audience, they played generic half-commercial, half-indie modern dance slop that really did nothing for anyone there. Personally, it was like having one’s brain massaged by one of those electric car buffers. This really backed up the train of thought of ‘just some guys playing someone else’s records’. The crowd looked bored out of their skulls with lots of folded arms and ‘get on with it’ looks on the faces of those arriving at the venue. This didn’t bode well for the rest of the evening.
Talk about a turnaround between support and main acts. Within the first five minutes of Royksopp kicking off their set, the crowd got the feeling they were in for something truly special tonight. The duo, consisting of Svein Berge and Torbjorn Brundtland, were assisted live by a guitar and bass player who, when arriving on stage, were dressed up and looked like distant relatives of the Sand People from Star Wars.
The intro played by the foursome was a thing of immense beauty, touching on electronic cornerstones that reminded the listener of pioneers and trailblazers in the history of electronic music, such as Giorgio Moroder, Walter/Wendy Carlos, Vangelis and Jean-Michel Jarre. The group then launched into an utterly stunning version of “Alpha Male”, which had the crowd roaring with approval.
Over the next ninety minutes, the crowd was well and taken on a musical journey. It was utterly astounding how, if you took the elements of this show apart, such as the borderline perfect sound mix, the constantly changing and striking outfits, the truly inspired lighting, the ghetto blaster backdrop which raised quite a few smiles from those of ‘a certain age’, they would be good on their own. Combined, the effect was stunning. This scribe has not seen and felt anything like this in regards to electronic music since having the absolute pleasure of having his brain scrambled upon seeing The Chemical Brothers in the Boiler Room at the 2000 Big Day Out.
Highlights came thick and fast tonight, such as “Remind Me” and “Happy Up Here”. There is a wonderful complexity to what Royksopp do with electronica, especially the way they integrate more traditional instruments to flesh out and beef up their sound live. No two tracks are ever quite the same, there is a wonderful sense of light and shade that weaves its way through their music. The band are at their finest when they create and play those tracks you can simply lose yourself in, such as the brain smashing “Fat Burner” and “Only The Moment”, which is one of the best 1970s Euro disco tracks that Giorgio Moroder never wrote or produced.
The band were also assisted by a mystery blonde female vocalist, who really excelled herself performing the vocal parts for tracks that were collaborations between Royksopp and Robyn, “The Girl & The Robot” and “This Must Be It”. However, she and the band truly hit an absolute peak with the version of “What Else Is There?” Originally featuring Karin Dreijer Andersson from The Knife on vocals, the mystery blonde provided a stunning reading of the track, hitting a truly extraordinary and moving emotional peak that could raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
For an encore, Royksopp served up the absolutely storming “Poor Leno” and “Have Another Cherry”. This truly was a hell of a one-two punch musically. The night concluded with droning sounds and repeated “Thank You” in a robotic voice over the drone. The band themselves seemed incredibly happy tonight and have promised they will be back to Australia soon.
A musical journey that engaged all five senses and touched the mind, heart and soul, this was truly a magnificent experience.
– Neil Evans