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
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.


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.

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.


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

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