Friday, 1 November 2013

Live: Porcelain Raft at Beta, Copenhagen 30/10/2013.

You do remember Porcelain Raft, the excellent indie artist whose albums I've previously reviewed and obsessed over? Well, last night the band played a gig in Copenhagen and yes, I attended it. And also yes, I am going to review it as well. How could I not!

The venue was quite a small place but then again, considering the artist is hardly a very hyped-up one it was a very fitting setting for the gig. I went there with a friend of mine and to be honest, we were a bit terrified at first because there were literally like 15 people at the time of our arrival but fortunately more people kept trickling in along the evening, slowly but surely. The event was opened with a supporting band, the London-based indie duo Post Louis who played a handful of songs to warm the crowd up. I must admit I had never heard of them before, but they had an interesting experimental sound and one of their songs, the indie rock number "This Could Be A Bridge" worked really well live. It was their most uptempo song so that might also explain it. They ended their set with a beautiful cover of Lou Reed's "Berlin" which was a lovely nod to the recently passed away pioneer of rock music.

Some time later it was Porcelain Raft's time to take over the stage. After his 2012 debut LP Strange Weekend he used to perform solo, with only vocals and the guitar parts performed live while the rest of the music would come from loops etc. but now he's touring with a four-piece band which was a pleasant surprise as that way you get a more complete 'live' performance. The band opened up with an amped-up version of "Think of the Ocean", one of the most captivating songs from his latest record Permanent Signal that also worked well in this alternative version. It was followed by "Cluster" (just like on the album). Majority of the tracks were indeed from his second album - the one he's currently promoting, after all - but we were soon treated with an older hit (well, 'older' as in 'from last year') "Shapeless & Gone" that got the crowd bopping along.

Considering how dreamy his music tends to be, the gig was surprisingly danceable. It wasn't obviously a rave or anything but the band did get the hipster-filled crowd swaying along to the beat. The band's performance was of impeccable quality, and the songs did - while sounding exactly as great as on the album - occasionally have some nice new arrangements: "Minor Pleasure", for example, received a harmonica-led outro, while the energetic rendition of "It Ain't Over" even featured a brief drum solo.

In addition to the album tracks from his two LPs, he also treated long-term fans with two songs from his earlier EPs: "Talk To Me" and "Come Closer". One of the best moments of the concert was however when the rest of the band left Remiddi alone onstage to perform two songs only accompanied with his guitar. First he played a stunningly transfixing rendition of his 2012 track "Backwords", one of the definite highlights of the gig. The whole performance was quite intimate due to the smallness of the venue, but "Backwords" made the experience even more intimate: he would occasionally sing parts of the song without the microphone, just softly strumming his guitar and singing directly to us without the mic. Magical moments like that are the reason why I absolutely prefer small-scale gigs to big stadium events - the feeling of proximity was incredible. Tears were not far, I assure you. He did in fact wipe one away from his eye before playing another stripped-down performance with "Come Closer", which he dedicated to Charlie Chaplin (the Youtube clip of the song features the final scene of Chaplin's 1931 film City Lights). It was all highly emotional.

Afterwards the band came back, launching into a triumphant version of the anthemic single "The Way Out", one of the surely most anticipated songs of the gig. Announcing it was time for their last song, Remiddi then put aside his guitar and went behind the keyboards to finish the show with the wistful, piano-led "I Lost Connection". The band was obviously clapped back onstage as the crowd was left hungry for more, especially for "Drifting In And Out", a serious contender for his best song so far, which is exactly what we got in an uplifting synth-laden version. Being an enthusiastic fan myself, I think it's quite safe to say that Porcelain Raft left the crowd utterly satisfied. (Even though I was hoping for "Echo" and "Unless You Speak From Your Heart" to make an appearance as well but hey, now I've got a reason to go see them again. As if I wouldn't otherwise...)

The band sounded really good live - you can get a peek in the live session clip I posted earlier - and Remiddi's singing was incredible, hitting even the highest notes. He's got a very fascinating, almost even androgynous voice, capable of showing a range of emotion and sounding exactly as he does on the records - if not even better. One moment he's singing with an upmost tender voice, next song he can be heard shouting out the lyrics. He was also very modest throughout the show, often thanking the crowd sincerely for coming as he told us it was his first time headlining in this country. What a charming frontman indeed. Trust me: if you can appreciate a proper shoegaze band and/or good ambient pop music, and get a chance to go to a Porcelain Raft gig, do go. You will not be the least bit disappointed.


Think of the Ocean
Shapeless & Gone
Minor Pleasure
Night Birds
It Ain't Over
Talk To Me
Come Closer
The Way Out
I Lost Connection 
Drifting In And Out

I rarely pass by a band merchandise table empty-handed, neither did I this time.
Instead, I got these two bad boys to broaden my LP collection. Money well spent!

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