2011/09/26

Josef & Erika live in Gothenburg

Water Air Ether
Photo: Magnus Martinsson

The wind was blowing right through my bones as I walked past the empty, deserted old dock area downtown, making my way to the former head office of the Swedish America Line, a great palace standing alone as the only living proof of past Gothenburg glory. Inside the little restaurant it is nice and warm. The duo with it's accompanying brass trio are crammed up in a corner, Erika Angell sitting behind an old Harmonium by the wall, trying to tune waterfilled glasses for the opening song. Josef is measuring the distance between his bow and the head of the trumpet player sitting in front of him, warning him not to lean back whatever he does.

Earlier that day the Gothenburg morning newspaper GP has written absolutely nothing about the event and instead devoted the front page of the culture segment to talentless has-been Tomas Ledin and his "new" bar show, which will be tormenting the city for a good three months. But actually it was rather liberating just going to the small restaurant Amerikabaren and having a meal with the local families who were looking with much interest at all the instruments gathered in the corner, unaware of the fantastic event that was to come. Not everyone was totally ignorant though, a rather intoxicated gentleman tells me in between puffs of his cigarette that he has come for the concert as he is a keen jazz fan, or as it turns out, fan of jazz covers of AC/DC songs. As the clock ticks closer to 9 however, the place is getting crowded with jazz musicians, including all the people behind the record label Hoob and quite a number of young gentlemen crashing by on their bicycles and rushing in so fast that their long beards almost get stuck in the glass door. If you have heard Josef & Erika's latest album, you know it's worth losing your facial hair over it.


When the modest beginning of Floods Cover My Ankles slowly fills the room everyone goes quiet. The piece has tones of the now classic Sigur Rós album Ágætis Byrjun with Josef's strong sweeping bass, the minimalistic brass and long organ tones, but most of all in the tempo. A piece of music which is allowed to take its time and which becomes stronger by it. That power is soon helping Erika's voice hover so high she nearly steps into the wall in order not to overload the mic. The three piece brass section, seated in front of the band, become the centre of attention whenever they play, which they are worthy. The brass arrangements which has such an intricate part on the latest album Floods seem to often have a conclusive role, responding to Josef's virtuoso bass and Erika's skilled singing in unexpected ways. Far away is the typical background brass otherwise so common in pop music.

Josef & Erika - My Own (live) (lo-fi) on Vimeo.

I filmed this with my mobile phone, so bear that in mind if you press play.

When the show is over I meet the intoxicated man again and he is very excited having discovered this amazing band, blurting out that Erika should apply for Idol and that he had just told her to do so immediately. This remark leaves me almost speechless and when I later talk to Erika and asks if it is true she retorts abruptly "No that is not true. I'm not applying for Idol." In november the band will be playing at the Berliner Festspiele and hopefully more places before Erika gets busy with the Thus:Owls European tour next year. When I walked home that night I wondered to myself if anyone ever tells Tomas Ledin to apply for Idol? But of course noone would ever even want him to.

Earlier post on Josef & Erika
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