WISDOM OF CROWDS & PETTER CARLSEN – Jazz Café, London – 08/12/2013

WISDOM OF CROWDS & PETTER CARLSEN – Jazz Café, London – 08/12/2013

Standing outside for an extra half hour in December weather wasn’t the way I planned on spending tonight.

Doors were late. Parts got cold.

Wisdom Of Crowds - WoC

Once I’m inside, the soothing voice of Petter Carlsen does wonders for my mood. Armed with just his semi-hollow Gibson, an array of effects and a snazzy lampshade stolen from the 1940s, his music isn’t usual MetalMouth fare. He is, however, an extremely talented performer with an exceptional voice. His chord voicings are gorgeous, as is the tone he ekes out of the guitar.

At one point, he attempts to fade out a song using the controls on his pedals, and accidentally stops the loops dead. Carlsen swears, before standing up and grinning, saying that it was the best fade out ever.

His use of looped tracks and sustainer effects make for a beautiful backdrop to his singing; however, his microphone is way too loud in contrast to the guitar – every time he reaches for a more powerful edge, I wince a little as I’m blasted by the sheer volume from the PA.

Complaining about being cold and the loudness of a gig? That’s two counts of being a wuss.

I know, I know. But this one would have been an easy fix – turning down the microphone in the mix.

I really enjoyed Carlsen’s performance nonetheless, and his final track You Go Bird even seems to channel a bit of John Martyn’s genius. Although I think he was a strange choice to open for a band who are a fair bit heavier, I’m really glad I got the chance to see him.

There’s a short break before Wisdom Of Crowds emerge to a great crowd reaction. They don’t have a huge amount of material to choose from, as vocalist Jonas Renkse (also of Katatonia) notes at one point – so they mix up the order of their one album and dive straight in. Read our chat with Bruce Soord here.

Immediately, there’s another sound problem. The drums are completely overpowering, and I’m having trouble hearing the guitar, and often the vocals too. This continues for a few songs, but seems to get better as the set progresses. They move through highlights including Pleasure, The Light and Frozen North without a hitch, and there’s a great dynamic interplay between the programmed electronic rhythms and the live drums (even if, as mentioned above, they tend to overpower the rest of the sound at times).

Renkse’s delivery is spot on, as you’d probably expect from such an experienced frontman, and Bruce Soord backs him up with confidence. Though they’ve played together before as Wisdom Of Crowds live, this is still one of a precious few gigs. But it sounds like they’ve being doing this together for years.

With a limited number of dates on this tour, many people won’t have the chance to see this fantastic group, and since the members are busy with The Pineapple Thief and Katatonia, it might be a while before more dates get announced.

However, I’m keeping my fingers firmly crossed for some more dates next year, and the possibility of new material. It would be terrible to see this band become a ‘one album wonder’ that gets pushed to the footnotes of these talented musicians’ history.