Midlake – Luxor, Cologne, D – 2010-02-03

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Mental cinema in 3D was the keyword when Midlake played the sold-out Cologne Luxor on february 3rd, just a couple of days after releasing their new album The Courage Of Others.

Sarah Jaffe opened the night, armed only with her bittersweet pain and an acoustic guitar, and invited the audience to a world of alcohol-soaked movie scenes. When Midlake finally took the stage, they were welcomed with loud cheers and great expectations.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so the warm welcome was returned by seven guys that looked as if somebody had beamed them from a folk festival at the beginning of the 70s, all the way through time, straight onto the stage of the Luxor.

They luckily didn’t sound exactly like that, but radiated that particular 70s spirit into the room, which in lack of a working time machine has otherwise became unavailable today. For the almost 2 hours that Midlake played, one could easily forget in a very pleasant manner, that we were actually in the 21st century here.

What made Midlake so special was the fact that they didn’t just take the ideas and the spirit of British folk rock from the 60s and 70s, and put them on like you put on a cool piece of vintage clothing, but instead breathed and lived that spirit until the last consequence, audibly and visibly out of true passion.

So it didn’t have the slightest bit of an artificial or nostalgic touch, when Tim Smith and Jesse Chandler passed each other melodical ping-pong balls with 2 German flutes, while in the background delicately arpeggiated guitar chords flowed from the speakers like mountain waterfalls in summer.

Singing in 3 voices was to be expected in that musical context, but was performed here in rarely seen and heard perfection, and with a lot of passion throughout.

It was only the occasional glimpses of fuzzy guitars and shoegazy rhythms that reminded you that the 90s did in fact happen. They added a welcome spicy seasoning to the carefully composed acoustic melange.

The mood of the audience fittingly ranged somewhere between solemn and spaced out, only between songs people demonstrated how much they loved the performance with roaring applause and loud cheering.

Roscoe, Young Bride and Head Home from 2007’s The Trials of Van Occupanther were about the only songs that got people dancing. All in all the Luxor was filled with a quite peaceful atmosphere, only occasionally interrupted by the usual scramble inside the narrow and weirdly designed Luxor.

As the setlist offered almost the complete new album, people hoping for lots of tracks from Van Occupanther could have been a bit dissappointed.

The new material might have more closely defined sonic boundaries compared to the songs from The Courage Of Others‘ predecessor, but performed live creates an exceptionally dense mood and atmosphere, that simply went ahead and absorbed the older tracks into Midlake’s new musical universe. Subsequently the show offered a clear and very intriguing contrast to previous tours.

Midlake’s live sound engineer Pieter Stellingwerff had the difficult task to create a differentiated mix of an incredible amount of instruments, and took the challenge with class and perfection. You had to stand inside a relatively narrow sound corridor between the speakers though, to be able to appreciate his work.

SUMMARY: Both on stage and in the audience people with eyes closed, grooving hypnotically and losing themselves in sound: The perfect concert for people who love to dive into music and atmospheres.

Midlakes voluminous world of sound worked surprisingly well in the living-room-plus-bar setting that is the Cologne Luxor. It should work even better in bigger venues or even classical concert houses. Let’s hope Midlake’s constantly rising popularity will make just that happen in the near future.

Review: Bjoern Kahlenberg – Photos: Christian Lesske


S E T L I S T :

01. Winter Dies
02. The Horn
03. Small Mountain
04. Bandits
05. Young Bride
06. The Courage Of Others
07. Fortune
08. Rulers Ruling All Things
09. Van Occupanther
10. Roscoe
11. Bring Down
12. Acts of Man
13. Core Of Nature
14. Children Of The Grounds
15. Head Home
16. Branches

Posted by Bjoern   @   4 Februar 2010
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