Honningbarna: Norwich Sound and Vision Festival – live reviewHonningbarna

Norwich Sound and Vision Festival

Oct 2013

The intro tape is playing the MC5’s Kick Out The Jams, you know the ribald call to arms from brother John Sinclair, asking which side you are on before the Detroit guitar guerrillas hit the stage for some sweat drenched, high decibel insurrection way back in the late sixties when such things were possible.

Decades later it sits neatly as an intro tape played on the tiny PA of an upstairs room in a Norwich pub before 5 sleep starved Norwegian youths go crazy on the stage with a set that sits them near the top of the tree in that post hardcore, post anycore space of wild youth who grew up immersed in the possibilities of American hardcore and created their own scenario out of it. It’s always quite fascinating that something as American as hardcore- that US take on UK punk rock- can be taken as a template and made into so many myriad brilliant forms in countries like in Norway.

Honningbarna, whose name oddly means honey children in Norse, are from Norway and it shows- they have that viking power, that special intensity about them that the nation produces. They sound like they grew up with the Refused as part of their background or are the younger, loose cannon take on The Hives but have cranked the whole affair with a definite high octane vibe of their own.

The band are in town for Sound and Vision festival and are touring their second album Verdun Er Enkel, which translates at the world is simple, which sees them further refine their thrilling assault that nods at the grinding power of Norwegian contemporaries Kvelertak whilst sniffing the glue of the great like the Dead Kennedys.
For a start this is some live show, they may have just got here after being held up at the customs in Harwich for hours and then busted by the cops for having no lights on their van but that doesn’t stop them from being in top gear. Where most bands would be blinking in the venue, too groggy to play after a long and ball busting day, this is a band who go off like a rocket, their frontman, Edvard Valberg, is twitching like a demon preacher man and the rest of the band take real bone breaking risks with their stage diving and insane energy levels.

Musically, they combine the wall of sound aggression of hardcore, with the call and response vocal chain gang blues of rock n roll. The gang chants may hint at the Refused but their youthful energy is taking it all somewhere else. Their songs are cleverly thought out with brilliant dynamics which sees one song drop down to a long handclap section which they get the crowd involved in. They also utilise a viola in a couple of songs with the Edvard sitting on a chair still twitching but playing the big classical instrument.

It’s powerfully effective and the musical highlight of a set full of musical highlights. They also sing in Norse which means that they have song titles like Borgerskapets utakknemlige sønner (“Ungrateful sons of the bourgeoisie’ apparently- whether they play that one or not is hard to tell as my Norse in not great).

In a music world full of false promises Honningabarna could easily claim to be the most exiting live band in the world right right now and, you know, they wouldn’t be lying because this a band that can turn 30 people in pub into a riot and make Norse sound like the language of international revolution.

Honningbarna Facebook.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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