Anna Rosenkilde: Just about ideal

*** (3 stars out of 6); January 31 at Ideal Bar

With Swedish garage rockers The Hives rocking it at Store Vega last night, one can be forgiven for not having noticed the much quieter singer-songwriter playing at Vega’s diminutive Ideal Bar at the same time.

Not really knowing that much about Anna Rosenkilde and her music, I turned up to a venue that was half-full at best on a wintry evening in late January. I was pleasantly surprised, though – Rosenkilde’s concert turned out to be an enjoyable Thursday night out and a fitting end to the month.

Kristian Harting and his 1966 guitar took care of the warm up duties and was backed by a brilliant sound technician who backed Harting’s steely vocals with a series of catchy loops and distortions and through a sequencer. Dream Jockey (Harting and his technician) played a short, disjointed set, consisting of ethereal vocal sequences layered dexterously on top of each other.

Despite having started off well, it all got rather complex and a bit too loud quite quickly. As innovative as he was, Harting seemed to be losing himself in the multiple echoes of his own voice and guitar strums. To be fair, this sort of sequencing could easily have worked well at a bigger venue with better amplification. The duo rounded off their appearance with a tune entitled ‘Queen of the Highway’, a song that drew on trip-hop and Sufi influences with a simpler sound compared to some of his more intricate sound arrangements.

Anna Rosenkilde then took to the stage shortly afterwards, looking confident in a green dress against the foreground of a couple of red keyboards. Her first few songs didn't make that much of an impression, though she definitely found her pace when backed by a drummer, pianist and vocalist later on. She performed solo again towards the end and was more reassured and assertive, finding her stride with acoustic tracks such as ‘Blue Boat’, which was flanked by sampled sounds of waves crashing gently on a shoreline.

An obvious highlight of the show was the brilliant piano-backed cover of the English folk ballad ‘Scarborough Fair’, made famous by Simon & Garfunkel. Rosenkilde rounded off the proceedings with ‘Snowy Angel’, backed by a guitar player, drummer and pianist, before ‘Island’ put an end to the show, with its drearily optimistic contemplations of life after death.

All in all the show was nothing out of the ordinary, though it’s easy to see why Rosenkilde is regarded as highly as she is in music circles.

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