They might be a non-mainstream, uncompromisingly arty band from Norway, but Gazpacho appear to have Dutch venue De Boerderij under some sort of spell.
We hear the ominous opening crunch of the title track from Demon – their darkest, twistiest effort yet (and the focus of the tour represented here). Black-and-white intro footage is accompanied by oddly creepy, old school radio warbling, interspersed with minimalist experimental jerks, strings and dark, cinematic swerves. There’s no chanting, no foot‑stomping. In fact, the heaving crowd is deadly silent. Then suddenly vocalist Jan-Henrik Ohme scurries across the stage, like a smiley, bespectacled beaver, and punters relax into cheers as the band open with 2009’s Tick Tock.
Centre stage, Ohme looks like a geography teacher, the last person you’d expect to have such a stunning pop voice – other‑worldly pop, but pop nonetheless (though perhaps not so surprising for a guy with a day job at Sony). His silver‑haired, quietly attractive comrade Thomas Anderson – the keyboarding, programming mastermind behind Gazpacho – has similarly commercial experience as a jingle writer. Between them, they lead a tune-focused core in a strange sonic landscape, with all recordings left untouched for the ultimate gig-capturing effect.
Norway’s answer to Radiohead, only more introverted.
Assured performances of earlier tracks like Vulture do a lot to posit Gazpacho as Norway’s answer to Radiohead, only more introverted, and weirder. Ohme has a healthy taste of Thom Yorke in his ethereal yet strong tones, and guitarist Jon-Arne Vilbo blends Floydian flourishes with harder, Johnny Greenwood-esque touches. This rocky boost also comes to light in I’ve Been Walking Pt 2, a forceful hybrid of Muse, Genesis and Nordic chills.
There’s an intrinsically sinister vibe to Demon, which was inspired by a ghostly manuscript found in an apartment in Prague, but the band’s upward gaze and engaged character keeps them, well, relatable – friendly humans, not holier-than-thou artistes. “On a slightly happier note, it’s spring, and winter is never,” Ohme smiles wryly, like a Jackanory storyteller for grown-ups, before the band slide into the softer, uplifting Winter Is Never.
Proceedings continue to lighten as Demon is left behind. Ohme and Anderson’s pop experience weaves especially effectively into the encore, consisting of two highlights from 2007’s Night. Indeed, closer Massive Illusion becomes almost Beatles-ish in its melodic refrain, all carried off with the confident tunefulness and individualism of musicians who really aren’t afraid of doing their own thing.