The punctual among Peter Gabriel’s audience for his So dates late in 2014 had an extra treat.
That was an opening performance, humbly introduced by the man himself, of two hand-picked Swedish talents in his band, playing their own short set. Jennie Abrahamson and Linnea Olsson deserve to see that showcase ratchet the admiration for their own work. We’ve enthused in Prog’s pages about Olsson’s debut album Ah!, notably its evocative instrumentation and imposing vocals that occasionally echoed Björk’s breathy other-worldliness. Now comes the singer-writer-cellist’s new set, on which the opening title track has a surprisingly spicy, almost glam-rock style sway about it. The experience of playing arenas has clearly been good for Olsson’s confidence. ‘Days are gone when I hurt me,’ she sings on Hurt, which would surely woo any Kate Bush disciple. That certain Scandinavian directness in Olsson’s lyrics plays well against their often preternatural presentation, which blends prog, modern rock and classical influences enticingly: Down builds on a bed of cellos on a track that could sit well on both 6 Music and the avant-garde end of Radio 3, and there aren’t many of those to the pound.