A wave of nostalgia swept over me as I watched Seli, leader of the veteran rockabilly outfit Langi Seli og Skuggarnir, strap on his beautiful Gretsch Black Phoenix Brian Setzer signature guitar. I remember having good times back in the 80’s watching these cats play at the (in)famous venue Tunglið, which went up in flames in 1998. The question of the day was: Do they still rock? The answer is yes!
Sporting the classical line-up of guitar, drums and double-bass (which was electric and looked totally NOT cool, but sounded great), the odd one out was new member DJ Gísli Galdur and his turntable sound effects. Most of the time, they fit the music well, although occasionally I felt it was a bit too much. But sometimes, however, it reminded me of Link Wray, and then all was forgiven. Mr. Skuggi had not forgotten a thing and the audience was obviously digging his “slap slap” bass lines.
The winner of the day, though, was undoubtedly the Black Phoenix. Listen: this guitar IS rockabilly. I’m pretty certain that Eddie Cochrane’s divine spirit is residing somewhere inside this wonderful instrument.
I cannot find anything bad to say about LS&S performance that night. They were cool. If anything, they were maybe too cool… if such a thing is even possible. A little more psycho elements, a la Cramps, could spice things up a little. Then again, it was Sunday evening, the last day of Airwaves and there was not a single brain in the house that hadn’t had a few cells destroyed over the last days.
Speaking of mistreated brains. Esja is the kind of band you want to listen to on a sleepy afternoon when you’re tired and hung over. I was in a good mood after listening to LS&S, and Esja’s laid back 70s rock did nothing to spoil my evening. They’re one of the few bands around that don’t use a bass guitar, and I wonder if that’s a good idea. They do not sound bad without it, but sometimes I felt the drums were a little bit lonely.
It’s rather special to see two of the most charismatic singers in the country together on stage. Krummi, better known his ferocious howling with Mínus, the Enfant Terrible of the Icelandic rock scene, concentrated on laying it down with an excellent slow- hand on his battered Epiphone. He left the singing to Daniel and that dude is born to have a microphone stand in front of him.
Then came the mood changers of the night. Fallegir Menn had no intentions of letting us enjoy our hard earned crapulence. The singers tried to look cool but failed and when one of them began speaking in broken Danish – which probably was supposed to be funny but wasn’t – I almost bolted for the door. Good thing I didn’t, because the band was rather good and had a nice groove and funky rhythm. If not for the rappers, this could’ve been a score for a great American B-movie from the 70s and this is meant as a compliment. The singers had sounded rather insincere but eventually became more relaxed and showed themselves to be quite skilled in the ancient art of rapping. Not bad, but I felt like I had heard this all before.
Sadly, I had to attend an important meeting at this time and missed Helgi Valur & the Shemales. I asked some of the audience how they liked it when I came back and people were generally happy with their performance.
They were billed as special guests but everybody in the building knew Crystal Antlers were next. It’s hard to keep a secret in this dark city of chatterers and babblers. I liked their show. Obviously they’ve played many shows in a short time and were very tight. I fell in love with the organ sound; it almost made me run out the door and commence a search for some dirty mushrooms. The music is some kind of gritty, psychedelic garage rock that I really liked. The band was clearly enjoying themselves and front man Johnny Bell was in great form. A good Sunday evening was saved from the boredom of sitting in my tomb of a living room watching a program on RUV about agriculture in Albania in the 50s. Thanks to everyone who participated. You rock.
Photos by HAXX.
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Posted October 22, 2009