Gig Review by Adrienne Frances with Photography by Lee Allen

Agnes Obel

L.A. Salami (stage name of Mr. Lookman Adekunle Salami) has a quiet and unassuming stage presence.

La Salami

His songs are similarly very gentle. Middle class london dialect with a pleasing voice, harmonica and acoustic guitar – but none of his songs grabbed me. In the realm of storytelling folk musicians, he’s absolutely adequate, but nothing stood out or excited me in any way. Reminiscent of Get Cape Wear Cape Fly meets Lightspeed Champion but without the obvious grit or passion of either.

La Salami

Agnes Obel

YES YES YES! AN ALL WOMEN SET! (I couldn’t help but hop excitedly from foot to foot at this. I’m so tired of all male backing, even for women! Nice one, Agnes!) her crew consisted of a cellist, oboe player, Agnes on keyboards, and another woman on drum machine. All dressed in white – they appeared formidable. Throughout the set the others would switch between instruments – sometimes two cellos, sometimes one. The sound they created was that of a dark lullaby: cerebral and seductive, most potent on instrumental tracks such as her opener ‘Red Virgin Soil’.

Agnes Obel

Using LEDs she cleverly shifted colours of light to match the colours and moods of her songs. Blue for ‘Dorian’, Orange for ‘Trojan Horses’ and so on.. but this wasn’t enough to distract me from the minor frustration at the sound quality of her vocals – lyrics were often swallowed by the powerful cellos and drums, and I struggled to hear her at times.

Agnes Obel

That said, this was only a minor niggle… and her musicians created a wonderfully dense woven soundscape throughout the set, with drums rousing and rhythmic and almost tribal at times.

Agnes Obel

I was reminded of many of my loves: Bjork in her vocal stylings, Einaudi in the mood and tempo of her music, and even Sigur Ros to a lesser extent.. but despite all this, for me there was something lacking. I’ve loved hearing ‘Familiar’ on repeat on 6Music but live I gained nothing new, felt no shivers, no resonance. It’s not that Obel did anything wrong, but more that I found myself zoning out at times – her live sound felt more ‘pop’ than I’d noticed when listening to her records, and so I came away from her show feeling that I’d keep listening to her records, but not see her live again.

Agnes Obel

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