Swedish songstresses PALE HONEY took to the stage at the Old Blue Last in Shoreditch last night. The gig was a tantalizing one off, for the duo have only played their other tours dates in their home country. London was indisputably indulged. They were supported by ZoZo – a young daydreamer from Catalunya – and Le Son – an effortlessly cool London based electronic duo.
By the time the Gothenburg goddesses hit the stage, the small venue in the heart of East London was packed pretty much wall to wall, with fans and newcomers alike, some even singing their entire setlist back to them.
Unsuspecting in their all-black uniform, the band ascended to the stage somewhat silently, choosing to simply to slash their way into their set with their first song ‘Someone’s Devotion’. The tune is a masterfully menacing track that sings of the torment of being emotionally chained to someone else. Undoubtedly it was the right choice for an opening song: starting off with a toe-tapping guitar riff and thumping thunderclaps from the drums, the song exemplified the pop-priestesses brand of minimal rock, which then thrashed its way into its pummelling chorus. If Jack White became a woman, a White Stripes allusion would not be too far away from the truth.
Their 2016 single ‘Real Thing’ also featured on their set, and is an example of their more shimmering, fuzz-laden psychedelia. The song creates a maelstrom with front woman Tuva Lodmark’s haunting intonations mixed with garage-rock, lo-fi guitars, synths and there’s even a cow-bell in there for good measure.
‘Get These Things Out Of My Head’ was perhaps one of the most visceral performances of the evening and is an instant tune; the seductively packaged song sings wistfully of Tuva’s personal struggle with her OCD – she begs and pleads in the chorus ‘to get these things out of my head’, the provocative power really showing itself off. The cyclical nature of the song is clever in its imitation of the delirium that comes with OCD; the song picks you up in its wind before suddenly dropping you down into a quiet, stripped-back reverie with a simple guitar riff and somnambulant singing. However, just went you have settled into the emotional release of the song, like in another whirlwind, you are swept back up into the hysteria.
The majority of the songs played were off their newest album ‘Devotion’, which was released in October 2017. However, the minimal rockers did some throwbacks to their older content: ‘Youth’, ‘Lonesome’, ‘Over Your Heard’ and ‘Tease’ that were featured on the setlist came from their eponymoyus debut album from 2015. The latter song particularly memorable in its lethargic Post Punk guitars that open the tune – the song literally teases the listener in its alluring sound and sensual lyrics: ‘baby I like you better when you dress in black, why do you tease me so?’
What is so enrapturing about the duo is their mastering of the art of musical seduction. They know exactly when to pummel you with the sound, before cruelly pulling it all back. When singing, the polite lead singer Tuva often looked down, drawing you into her musical aura. Drummer Nelly Daltrey was completely trance-like in her backbeats – often fixating on Tuva almost as if they had a magnetic pull of energy towards each other. Whilst it was a shy show, Tuva only really spoke to say ‘thank you’ and to warn everyone that it was their last song, it is precisely that endearing energy, the dynamism of their music, the stripped-down sound, their self-taught trade and their unassuming image that ultimately makes them relentlessly talented.
Truly, the only thing missing was the performance of their cover of ABBA’s ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’. It’s truly magical.
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