With eclectic, folk-driven, collective groups making their mark on the British music scene for some time, it’s a wonder why Norwegian folk-rockers Katzenjammer weren’t leading the wave rather than seemingly following it as they release their third studio album Rockland.
The all-female four-piece are nothing if not unique, something very evident as they took the stage at North London’s Lexington venue. Anne Marit Bergheim, Turid Jørgensen, Solveig Heilo and Marianne Sveen rotated around the stage, sharing lead vocal duties and changing up instrumental parts throughout the show as they tore through a blisteringly energetic set featuring tracks from 2008’s Le Pop, 2011’s A Kiss Before You Go as well as a good selection from forthcoming album Rockland.
Folk, indie, rock, country, blues and pop genres shone through as the set went on but the general undertone, even during the slowest and quietest of tracks, was upbeat as the quartet on stage exuded sheer energy.
Known for being rather theatrical, their stage show, while slimmed down for the small Lexington stage, was still full with Akerø – their large, cat-faced, 3-string contra bass balalaika – being played by each band member at some point during the set.
One thing you can’t do is find a clear lead amongst the women, all are strong both musically and expressively and all are fierce. Marianne Sveen opened the night with Rockland track Curvaceous Needs with Anne Marit Bergheim taking over vocal duties for Driving After You. Lead duties continually shifted with Turid Jørgensen stepping up for My Dear and Solveig Heilo stepping out from behind the drums to take the microphone for Shine Like Neon Rays.
Along with keeping track of who was leading each song, it was almost impossible to keep an eye on every instrument being played and by which of the band members. There was Akerø, of course, along with a regular bass guitar, acoustic guitars, keyboards, a glockenspiel and an accordion, drums, a kazoo and a trumpet along with a number of other instruments.
Before playing forthcoming single Lady Gray, Sveen took the time to address the audience and explain the inspiration behind it, how she’d come across an elderly lady suffering from Alzheimer’s disease during her time as a nurse and how a flicker of recognition returned to her when exposed to Norwegian folk music.
All of this coupled with the genre-shifting set made for an engaging and exciting show which was over before you knew it. Leaving the stage after a 14-song main set, the foursome returned for a sombre rendition of A Kiss Before You Go track God’s Great Dust Storm before launching into their take on Genesis classic Land of Confusion.
With their smaller shows selling out in minutes, Katzenjammer have a live show made for a much larger stage which they’re sure to be finding their way to over on these shores very soon.
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Photography & Review by Kalpesh Patel. Katzenjammer @ The Lexington, London. 28th January 2015.