Niki And The Dove @ Electrowerkz (24/05/11)

May 28, 2011 § Leave a comment


With some gigs, it’s all about the venue. Acoustics, lighting, capacity, proximity of bar from stage…these things create the atmosphere which contributes to the success or failure of the night. Other times however, all of these things pale into insignificance as the band you watch transport you to another place all together. Never have I witnessed this happen quite like it did on Tuesday night as Niki And The Dove played Electrowerkz (Angel, London).

Electrowerkz is a grimy place, with walls that look like they may bind you in their sticky web at the slightest contact. The layout is confusing; you enter the stage area after several turns, twists, and trips on dimly lit staircases, finally reaching what looks like a dark corner of an industrial site. The first support, I Am Camera, had a few people moving in this darkness, but the second act, Seams, did substantially better. His particular brand of electronica, with its well timed loops and layers, rumbled along extremely pleasantly, building to drop bass that had the whole front of the crowd enjoying themselves with quite some energy. And so, thoroughly warmed up, we waited for Niki And The Dove to emerge.

They (Malin Dahlstrom, Magnus Boquist and Gustaf Karlof) approach from the shadows brandishing bird whistles, which they proceed to play in unison, the fluttering tones filtering through the microphones and filling the room with delicate and peaceful tones. The levels of calm peak here; as the opening bars of newest track ‘The Fox’ are played, it is clear that the night is going to be mysterious, exhilarating, and altogether electrifying. ‘The Fox’ is played somewhat ethereally, Malin’s powerful voice sounding distant and dreamlike, whilst Magnus and Gustaf conjure up dreamy yet forceful sounds on drums and keys respectively.

This otherworldly sensation continues throughout the set, albeit more vividly. The band create a whole world of their own, in which the audience are lucky enough to be submerged. Malin wears a white outfit (emblazoned down the whole right side with the image of a fox), her face is adorned with glitter, and her hair has a billowing madness to it: all the elements it seems, of a true pop star. For as she dives into ‘Mother Protect’, none of the aspects of her appearance or her conduct seemed forced. The way she sways and throws her arms around to the songs fits perfectly. With a theatricality reminiscent of Kate Bush’s few live appearances, it’s hard not to fall in love with this girl from Sweden. The loping beats of ‘Mother Protect’ build to the chanting final crescendo, and as the audience sings back to her, it seems that she has us all rapt.

The lighting is shadowy yet emotive, and as Malin is joined by dancers, there is a feeling that this is more than just a few songs being played, it’s a performance. The dancers, also dusted (or rather coated) with glitter take up the sides of the stage, at first hula-hooping, later waving ribbons, and finally handing out large green leaves to those at the front. ‘Mother Protect’ leads into the amazingly addictive track ‘Under The Bridges’, followed by tracks including ‘Winterheart’. Finally, ‘DJ Ease My Mind’ brings the night to a close, providing a perfect climax. Like all of the songs played, it makes so much more sense in this live setting. Niki And The Dove are the type of band who you can love on record, but who you will adore after seeing them perform just once. Some artists cannot transfer what they record into a live setting, but the special bands are the ones who cannot be contained in a recorded medium. Malin’s voice is more emotive, her aptitude for performance perfectly compliments the songs, and Magnus and Gustaf create the eerie synths and beats that bind everything together. A truly spellbinding performance from a band who have created an atmosphere and experience that is all their own.

In case these words haven’t made my feelings for Niki And The Dove clear enough, there’s a lyric in ‘DJ Ease My Mind’ which seems quite perfect: “I did not see it coming, now it’s in my blood.”

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