Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Kings of Convenience: Barbican Hall, London

I have just returned from an enchanting evening at the Barbican where I spent almost two hours listening to the effortless harmonies and sublime guitar riffs of Erland Oye and Eirik Boe a.k.a Kings of Convenience. I'd been lucky enough to catch them at the Royal Festival Hall five years ago when they released Riot on an Empty Street and knew that I was in for an understated but sincerely enjoyable musical treat. They started at the very mellow end of their repertoire, introducing us to some of the material from their forthcoming album Declaration of Dependence. The two of them stood neatly on stage in perfect harmony, seamlessly interweaving sweet threads of guitar. The fourth song was the one that struck a chord (yes, pun intended) with me - the melancholy, spellbinding and tearjerking I Don't Know What I Can Save You From. And I did jerk a tear because this particular song took me back to days lounging around in the smoky, sunstreamed living room of the house in which I lived during my 'coming of age' second year at university. It was the year I realised I didn't have a clue how I was supposed to proceed in life and that success is something that you have to attain and is never, ever, inevitable.

The second half of the set was suavely upbeat, to the point where everyone was standing up, swinging their hips and singing along. The duo were joined by guest musicians - an Italian double bassist who looked remarkably like a compressed version of Liverpool manager Benitez, and a very talented violinist who went by the name Tobias. The ambiance metamorphosed: away from the serene duetting of guitars to a geeky but chic 'hey we're your friends come and party in our living room' vibe. Across the two hours, the musical build-up was perfect, with everyone getting more and more involved - cheering, dancing, clapping. Not what you would have expected from a pair that have often been described as a modern day Simon and Garfunkel. And they had great banter - mellow, precise and perfectly pitched, just like their music. Basically, as Scandavian folk music goes, these guys are at the top of their game and (on a personal note), I'd happily marry them both.

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