Saturday, October 14, 2006

Män In Black

Seanachie's first outing to a big gig in a few months took place on Thursday night, when he got on his bike and whisked himself up to La Cigalle to see The Knife, back in town for their second live show this year. The Knife do not really do live music, mechanical instruments are few and far between on their recordings, and like many electronic acts before them they use a few extra devices to beef the show up. The first of these is that both Olof and Karin dress in all black, with balaclavas, something they probably would be unlikely to have done in the heyday of European terrorism. I quipped to a friend of mine who was at the show "how do we know it's them?" and he said "because that's what they looked like last time". So far so seen before, in the tradition of Kraftwerk, Altern8, Slipknot and so on. I even think Alice In Chains did something like that once. The pair are active enough on stage, Olof beating a few melodies out on his drum panels, Karin dancing and clapping her hands self-consciously as the beats thunder around her. It was Andreas Nilsson's projection-and-light show that had everyone talking after their gig up the street in La Loco in June and it is an impressive sight, projections on two screens - one behind the stage and a transparent one in front - shifting from abstract Norman McLarenesque animations to weird montages of surfers and gogo dancers. Then there is the phantom organ-grinder standing behind who grinds out a strobe, his face changing with each projection.

But there was music too. There is a lot of backing track played, included some of the male vocals, provided on record by José Gonzalez and others, but the band are not lazy. Most of the songs are distinct from the versions on the albums, Seanachie's own personal favourite 'You Make Me Like Charity' (which has the wonderfully enigmatic chorus 'you make me like charity instead of paying off taxes') was transformed into something more anthemic. Most of the tracks played were unsurprisingly off the most recent album 'Silent Shout', including the gentle 'Marble House', the recent single 'Like a Pen' and the magisterial 'We Share Our Mothers' Health' a song that swallows the ambient air in as ferocious a way as The Fall's thumper from last year 'Blindness'. And there was 'Heartbeats', covered this year by José Gonzalez and the success of that version no doubt propelled The Knife further into the minds of people. Some say that Gonzalez's version is better; it's not but it does demonstrate how strong and how brilliant a song it is. The concert was short, no more than fifty or so minutes, as has been the case lately with the band. I suppose they were a bit warm in those costumes. So it was back to the bar which was full of lovely Swedish eye-candy. I should do this more often.