About 2 weeks ago I headed to Oxford Circus to watch Sondre Lerche and his band perform at The Borderline. From ghost stories to broken amps and acapella covers, the concert was far from perfect – which also made it one of the best I have ever experienced.
For those who have never heard of Sondre, he is a Norwegian indie rock/jazz(ish) musician that has just released his 8th studio album, Pleasure. The new record features a varied number of styles: while I Know Something That’s Gonna Break Your Heart reminds us of the psychedelic rock of Tame Impala, songs like I’m Always Watching You or Soft Feelings give us more of an 80s disco vibe.
I’ve been a fan of his work for a while now, so to finally see him perform live got me really excited as from the moment I bought those tickets (yes, tickets. I somehow managed to drag a friend with me (thanks Rita)). Anyway, as I was saying, I went to The Borderline and, just like always, got there way too early. The opening act only started at 8pm, as the shy keyboard player Alexander Von Mehren walked on stage, accompanied by David Heilman (the drummer) and Chris Holm (the bass guitarist). The feeling that they were as excited to perform as we were to watch was eminent on the smiles they all carried. The three played some tunes from Alexander’s album, Aéropop and, as they were doing it, Alex explained the thought process behind each and every song he wrote. With funny lyrics that talk about Norwegian politicians and winter, the hour passed as if it had only been five minutes.
When the time came, everyone had already forgotten the actual reason we were all there. The trio left the stage wearing bigger smiles than the ones they walked in, knowing they were coming back to a crowd that will happily welcome them once more. The time that separated Sondre from us was getting shorter and you could feel the excitement and enthusiasm sinking in the room as the minutes passed.
Everyone walked back to the stage, but there was still no sign of Sondre. The band then began to play what seemed like an odd beat with a lot of drums. “Soft Feelings”, I whisper to my friend. You could see everyone’s head turning round to see where he would come from. Jokes on all of us, he came from right behind the stage curtain.
With his very own dance moves, Sondre performed Soft Feelings and Legends with passion and dedication, as if it were the first time. Everything was going according to plan when something very unexpected happened: right when he was about to start Phantom Punch (his most punk rock hit), the amp broke.
And now what? We all had the same question.
To keep us distracted and entertained, David, the drummer, told us some ghost stories about the hotel room they were staying in. The tension was still noticeable but everyone was laughing and enjoying the uniqueness of the moment. As they realized they weren’t going to be able to fix it themselves, they had to call someone. Even though everything seemed to be going down, Sondre didn’t quit right there, and so sang acapella. That’s when I knew, not only was he talented as a musician and music producer, but also as an artist. The amp couldn’t be fixed, but the show couldn’t stop either, so some sort of “technological revolution”, as David Heilman proudly called it, was made and everything went on like nothing had happened in the first place. The remaining setlist had the regular amount of Pleasure, a bit of Please and a taste of Two Way Monologue. To wrap the night, Sondre, by himself, presented us with an acoustic version of I’m Always Watching You, a performance that sent shivers down every single person’s spine in that audience.
Shortly after that everyone got kicked out of the venue by the security guards (who were just really doing their job, no hard feelings) and, even though we barely had time to talk to Sondre or the band, I’m sure we all went home with an overwhelming good feeling and our hearts full of pleasure.
Review by : Francisca Maria