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[music, concerts]

Sparklehorse and Norfolk & Western concert


My first visit to the small cave club Nachtleben was quite an impressive experience.

It started with the young band Norfolk & Western from Portland, Oregon which played calm and tuneful music radiating a warmth like few other bands. American Analog Set come to mind whose singer's timbre is similarly unobtrusive. Luna is another band covering the same soft and mellow ground. The very slowly evolving relaxed songs reminded me of Low who are going to play with Tom Liwa in Offenbach December, 4th by the way. Besides guitar, bass and drums some extra instruments on some songs added to the sound. There was the lap steel guitar giving a slight country touch, the vibraphone played by the female drummer, something like a hair dryer which intensified the atmosphere. On the cd I bought at the show, their second release Centralia from 2000 there is also a lot of viola which makes the comparison to Australia's Dirty Three featuring Warren Ellis expressive violin play almost inevitable. Actually Cat Power's masterpiece Moon Pix featuring Dirty Three's guitarist Mick Turner also has a similar soulful sound as Norfolk & Western.

After this very good opener I already feared that the main act would be a disappointment. Mark Linkous arrived on stage only with a drummer and started his set with a loud abrasive rocker with distorted guitar and voice. It came as a surprise to me as I would have expected this kind of stuff by Trent Raznor from Nine Inch Nails but not from Sparklehorse. All night long Linkous switched between his melodic sentimental songs and noisy punk interpretations of his songs in which the original tune could still be heard by the attentive listener. He was massacring his own beautiful songs as if he had had enough of the deeply emotional originals mostly from his first brilliant album Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot. I liked these abrupt changes between quiet and loud a lot. They gave the concert a dynamic aspect which I hadn't anticipated. Linkous as a performer was rather shy and did hardly interact with the audience. Between songs he seemed quite nervous and created a hectic atmosphere when he changed instruments. He only gave one encore, a quiet song which was an adequate end of an exciting evening.


 





 
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