Heaven at Bremen as Brian Jones meets Philip Seymour Hoffman
One of the hottest tickets at this year’s Frost festival, which is currently running throughout February, was undoubtedly the neo-psychedelia poster boy Connan Mockasin from New Zealand, who played his first concert in Denmark at Bremen Teater on Saturday.
The Danes were finally allowed to experience for themselves just why this eccentric oddball talent is fast picking up a reputation as one of the must-see live shows on the European circuit.
Mockasin – fresh from a support slot on a recent Radiohead tour – seemed excited to be here and the air of anticipation in the intimate venue was considerable, as he strolled relaxed onto the stage, accompanied by his sublime backing band, looking every bit the shamen cross between Brian Jones and a young Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Tearing straight into a groovy, instrumental medley of trademark flangy guitar licks, the mood was set for the first half of the evening, which was mainly dedicated to songs off the 2010 debut, (and much lauded) modern psychedelia masterpiece Please Turn Me into the Snat.
The hushed trippiness of ‘It’s Choade, my dear’ was a particular highlight and seemed to encompass what Mockasin is all about: off-kilter melodies, soaring interludes and bonkers arrangements.
On record, Mockasin is often compared to the likes of Arial Pink and Deerhunter – but it’s live that he really stands out as a unique performer.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about tonight’s performance was the effortless way the band leader dictated improvised tempo changes and volume levels. The audience responded with open arms to the sense that this was a custom-made, one-off performance.
Furthermore, he possesses a wit that makes his sometimes difficult music easier to digest – even his mysterious guru-like presence has a strange familiarity to it.
During the free-form ‘Faking Jazz Together’ he encouraged mass finger clicking and chanting while we were treated to anecdotes of his alleged Danish uncle.
Halfway through the set, Mockasin suddenly appeared in the middle of the audience with a low-pitched microphone effect to make him resemble a reverend reading a Sunday sermon.
He wanted us to get up from our seats and dance to the songs from his latest album, Caramel. And so we did.
A recent single, the fuzzy slow jam ‘I’m the man who will find you’ followed, along with the ballad ‘Why Are You Crying?’
At the encore Mockasin appeared in pyjamas from under a duvet in the company of a kimono-clad geisha. Together they sang ‘I Wanna Roll With You’, which too prompted a mass sing-along.
The show culminated with an epic extended version of live favourite ‘Forever Dolphin Love’, which was nothing short of exhilarating.
Saturday 15 February