Katzenjammer @ Next Big Thing Festival 2011
Lucinda Belle and The Chakras play as well
John Bownas - 10 February 2011
Overall - 8/10
The Chakras (7/10) are first up and that broad Irish brogue of singer Rocky Whittaker means that the room instantly warms to the band’s dark stormy bass laden atmospherics. They can be forgiven the perennial sin of skinny jeans and winklepickers if only for the fact that their first UK single 'Build Me A Swan' is a golden slab of breathy pop just made for driving across the moors at two in the morning with your valentine asleep on your shoulder.
The heavy use of vocal effects that gives the performance so much depth is, however, annoying when the engineer keeps leaving it switched on between the songs. When Rocky talks and asks people not to go to the bar during the slow numbers his voice bounces around like a baby on a pogo-stick.
Faultless but not as memorable as they might be, there's a future for these London-based Dubliners if they can manage to catch the wave and hold on for a ride.
Lucinda Belle (9/10) is on her first outing with just her harp for company. Following her meteoric rise from the obscurity of a Balham dry-cleaners to the glamour of an international recording career and stage appearances with some of the world’s top performers the she remains casually relaxed about playing to this intimate Camden crowd. She also tweets merrily to her followers throughout the day and late into the night – showing a respect for the musicianship of Katzenjammer and an easy rapport with the world at large.
Lucinda is a born entertainer as well as a classically trained singer and harpist. Her delivery and audience chat is disconcertingly reminiscent of the great Richard Cheese in all of his languid lounge-iness. Her mix of original songs and covers keeps the pace of the show moving beautifully, and although when she calls Sam McCarthy up on stage for a duet, it’s earlier than planned and he doesn’t have time to properly prepare himself, it's still a great moment.
For those not yet in the know about Lucinda, think Amy Winehouse with a sense of humour. Check out 'Where Have All The Good Men Gone' for a lovingly crafted piece of lyrical whimsy that just drips in soul.
Katzenjammer (9/10) are only clocking up about 15 instruments out of a possible 29 between the four self-taught Norwegian pop divas tonight. From the grinning cats face of the giant three-stringed contrabass balalaika to the cheeky kazoo and an old biscuit tin bolted to the drumkit, the girls move seamlessly from song to song and hardly blink as they change positions, swap vocal duties and generally keep the crowd guessing as to what will come next.
Opening strongly with the glorious ‘Le Pop’ and the chirpily titled ‘Hey Ho On The Devil’s Back’, they play through a ten-song setlist with typically Scandinavian abandon. This is a wild polka-pop ride that skips daintily and charmingly from folk to swing and transfixes half the crowd whilst spurring the other half to dancing like they haven’t got work in the morning.