The Raveonettes
The HMV Institute, Birmingham
Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

LTW’s Adrian Bloxham caught the Raveonettes on their current tour in Birmingham and it sounds like it may have been a personal event of the year!

There are three people on stage. The drummer smiles, clicks his sticks together four times and they go. The guitarist on the left has black hair peeping from under a black baseball hat, he is dressed all in black and is playing the guitar, he looks at the audience and sings. On the right stands the coolest woman you have ever seen, all in black with a bleached blonde bob, she plays guitar and stands forward to sing. That’s when the music picks you up and takes you away. The two voices together make a delicate, sublime sound over the drums, guitar and for some songs, bass.

They play music that sounds like what would be playing on the speakers of a spaceship heading down to a new planet. It’s ethereal and unworldly. The moment when Sune steps back from the microphone and reaches down bent over to hit the first chord it’s breathtaking. They use feedback to sculpt their songs, swapping and changing guitars to give the sound they need for each song.

The drummer plays rock’n’roll beats throughout; no frills, no mucking about, just a straight ahead foundation for the two others to build on. He reminds me of how Nick Knox used to sit and keep everything together for the Cramps with no mess. Sune Rose and Sharin’s guitars are so in tune with each other that it sounds like one instrument, they are linked together somehow.

The two singing together give the songs a vocal quality from the days of the Everly Brothers and the Ronettes both looking straight ahead into the audience and pouring themselves into the music. The songs come into their own live. On record they are stunning enough, but live the songs explode and breathe. At one point just before the first encore both of them are bent double at the waist and thrashing their guitars to make a glorious sound as the drums just carry on keeping the beat going.

This is what they do live. They keep the beat alive. They keep the spirit of rock’n’roll burning bright. They play to us and for us but mostly for each other. When either one of them glances over to the other side of the stage or at the drums they smile, the songs from ‘Observator’ are not as frantic and feedback drenched as their predecessors but they are as powerful and moving none the less.

 

To sum up the feeling of this gig, let me tell you a story. Five years ago my son was rushed into hospital to have his appendix removed. He was ten. On the way back from the hospital late that night I turned the radio on and ‘Dead Sound’ came on. I’d never heard anything like it and bought the album that night. Last night in Birmingham when the backing sound of faltering feedback came on and the strobes kicked in with the drums for ‘Dead Sound’ the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, it was that good. By the time the guitars had exploded into it I had tears in my eyes.

Raveonettes, catch them if you can, they were breathtakingly good.

Words and live pic by Adrian Bloxham. More writing by Adrian on Louder Than War can be found here.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I saw the London gig, and yep, it was a good ‘un.

    They’re strangely self-effacing people in a way, though. All this stonking rock ‘n’ roll blasting out, but there’s no showboating. They just stand there and do it. Which isn’t a bad thing…although it does mean that every bloody photo I took of Sune Wagner is basically a mic stand with someone behind it.

    If the pink pic above is from the Birmingham gig, the stage lighting looks like it was equally rubbish as in London. Now there’s a subject for LTW – in this age of high technology, why is stage lighting getting worse and worse?

  2. Great review Adrian – a hugely under-rated band who are “always the same/always slightly different” with each album they make. This years Observator is in my Top Ten faves of the year.

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