There’s so much going on over the summer at the South Bank – or Southbank Centre, as it’s now renamed. On this night alone there’s raw, dirty blues from The Amazing Snakeheads and a comeback set from Edwyn Collins. I’m off to see Trentemøller. The last time I saw the Danish electro multi instrumentalist was at 2am in a field at Big Chill in 2008, where a rapt audience stood silently, thrilled to their introspective and enveloping sound, in particular Moan, and its accompanying heartbreaking video of Laika the dog who was sent into space.

Southbank beach
The “beach” at Southbank
southbank
From the Festival Hall, a sunny eve at Southbank

Trentemøller are appearing as part of James Lavelle-curated Meltdown Festival. Anders Trentemøller is now touring with a band, straddling both electro and indie camps. As it turns out, he feels more electro than indie. On stage, the band remain fairly aloof. For the opening numbers they resemble a row of iPod-advert silhouettes against the cold spotlights, occasionally Ander’s hand punching the air. As the set warms up, the band become more visible, and the two female members, vocalist and guitarist, gradually take over as the focal point. The visuals consist of four lanterns, set against what might be blinds… a peek into a world beyond, or an inward-looking gaze.

Trentemoller

Any vague concerns I had about the Royal Festival Hall’s suitability for their performance are banished; Trentemøller’s complex soundscapes fill the generous auditorium, waves of sound seeming to bounce off the walls. The auditorium is about three quarters full, with everyone seated, until suddenly, by some invisible signal, there’s a polite stampede as those in the rear stalls move near the front to dance.

Trentemoller
Trentemøller’s work precedes the whole Scandinavian TV drama explosion, but they share a moody, dark outlook, and I can envision Take Me Into your Skin as the soundtrack for another series of The Killing, if Sarah Lund could be realistically brought back. Or unrealistically. Please bring her back, I don’t think us fans will care how.

It’s interesting to hear Ander’s hyper-polished productions live, but some of the subtlety is drowned out, noticeably so on Moan. Trentemøller play several numbers from Lost (2013), the last album, such as Candy Tongue which is wonderfully suffused with an air of menace. Shades of Marble, an earlier composition, builds up tension with its multi-layered Tarantino-esque feel. Since last night, I’ve been on Trentemøller overload, and am captivated and enthralled again by the compositions, their power, fluidity, pacing and tension. However, with the ‘distance’ they maintain between themselves and the audience, and the power that their recorded music delivers, I’m just not sure how much this live performance has added to their appeal.

THE SMALL PRINT

WHO: Trentemøller plus support, part of Meltdown festival at the southbank centre
WHEN: June 17, 2014
WHERE: The Royal Festival Hall, London
TICKETS: £15

Festival updates and half price festival tickets… head over to Music News

What do you think?