Click on any image to enlarge | All photographs by Sonny Malhotra
Tonight sees the Nordic musical goodness of Ja Ja Ja return for its ninth stint at The Lexington. Curated by Stephen Bass of Moshi Moshi Records, tonight’s line up promises performances from Reykjavík born and raised Lára Rúnars, the Copenhagen based duo Champagne Riot and current TLOBF favourites Niki and The Dove.
Having released her debut album Standing Still in 2003, Lára Rúnars has the honour of stepping up first. The sultry, gritty vocals and unique indie pop sensibilities work best on slightly edgier numbers like ‘Love’ and the brave cover of Prince’s ‘Kiss.’ The colourful flashes of her dress and her twiggy like stature accompany contagious rhythms and stuttering lyrics, but as the set draws on the moments of greatness at the beginning are somewhat lost in amongst awful ska rhythms and menial refrains. There is something missing from her performance this evening and that kind of raw, original, infectious power pop Rúnars lacks in made up in spades by the next act.
Led by the utterly adorable Malin Dahlström, Niki and The Dove’s pulsating dance pop harmonies have been somewhat of an obsession of late. It was pretty much love at first listen when the distorted, rumbling synths and percussive echoes of ‘Under The Bridges’ lurched forth from my headphones. Having added to the anticipation of this evening with their latest release ‘Mother Protect,’ the Swedish trio are met with general adoration as they take to the stage for their first ever UK show. Adorned with shimmering ribbons, Dahlström effortlessly channels the wispy romanticism of early Kate Bush whilst keyboardist Gustaf Karlöf and drummer Magnus Böqvist provide the infectious hypnotic Eurovision-esque rhythms, rich ambient texture and sharp percussion that have become synonymous with the three-piece.
Dahlström’s stentorian vocals softly swell with warped guitar hooks and eighties infused synths that crackle against the rolling basslines. They play through a whole host of songs that are new to my ears that are just as melodramatic as ‘Mother Protect.’ Although not as immediately as mesmerising as previous releases the moment the song breaks and the delicate figure on stage howls “You can’t keep me down, I am done, I am furious” the incredible song writing talents of Niki and the Dove are clear.
Tonight’s version of ‘DJ, Ease My Mind Will You’ gently rises with tender beats and sultry coos before exploding in a mass of twisted electronica and pounding percussion: not to mention the deliriously ecstatic dance moves Dahlström has adopted over earlier slow motion moves, shrieking as she shakes her head, covers her ears and turns down the effects to leave her voice drifting over the crowd on its own.
After their frustratingly short set, the room thins out significantly; something to which Champagne Riot’s Caspar Bock and Anders Reuter become acutely aware. Taking to the stage with no more than a laptop, two drum pads and a microphone the theatricality is somewhat lessened for the next half an hour. The bass line reverberates around the room as the only male frontman of this evening croons at his microphone, his droning vocals set to a repetitive beat that becomes slightly dreary. Unfortunately the crowd becomes even thinner on the ground as the band pull out their best tracks of this evening ‘ Friend of A Friend’ and last song ‘Alcohol Kisses.’