Erlend Øye – Islington Assembly Hall

Erlend Øye is going to be releasing a new album. Hooray! It is true that he announced a new album in 2013 when he release the first single from said album, and the suspense has been killing me. But after seeing him at the Islington Assembly Hall on 4th April my impatience has been quelled. A bit. For now. At the door we were informed of the ban on any filming or recording for the first 40 minutes, a rule I observed being strictly adhered to and is testament to the appeal of Øye and the respect his fans have for him. And it was a nice change not to be stuck watching the gig through the mobile phone camera of the taller person stood in front of me.

Øye takes the stage looking a little abashed at the rousing applause his arrival has garnered from the crowd. With just two people, Siggi (or Sigurður Halldór Guðmundsson) from Iceland and Viktor the Finn on the flute, to accompany him and a set of made up of almost entirely new, unheard material you might wonder how this can be a successful gig. But only at an Øye show could you get such an enthusiastic response from a “virgin listen”. New songs like Dico Ciao got a good response with Erlend encouraging a bellowed “Ciao” from the audience, and Save Some Loving where he reminds you to “save some of your loving for loving yourself” after which he tells the crowd that he found London hard to live in. “You are a tough breed”, he said, and told us about his days wandering the streets of London peering into beautiful but empty houses, because people were always working to pay for the houses. He extols the virtues of living in Sicily, where he wrote and filmed the video for the first single from the yet untitled new album La Prima Estate; an incredibly up-beat song about his friends graduation day. He advises that when we some money we should go to Italy and eat cheese; “lunch lasts for hours” out there.

About half way through his set, Øye gives the stage to Siggi. Convinced by the audience to take Øye‘s place centre stage, Siggi treats us to a reggae song in Icelandic – he is in Icelandic reggae band Hjálmar – and a folk song he said the Finns and Icelanders had always fought over as to which country it originates from: a claim the Norwegians have never made, apparently.

The most recent release La Prima Estate got an ecstatic response, followed by an encore of Whitest Boy Alive songs Upside Down and Golden Cage, and we are treated to some of Øye‘s characteristic dancing. Some would say it is Dad dancing, but the way he does it makes it cool. See the Kings of Convenience video for I’d Rather Dance with You for reference.

It is probably true that the majority of the people in the hall have come on the strength of past material –Kings of Convenience, The Whitest Boy Alive, or his last solo outing Unrest which is now more than a decade old. Couple his incredible and consistent song writing talent with his charming stage presence you have a winning formula. Stopping for a quick Q&A session between songs, when asked how long until a new Kings of Convenience record would be conceived, Øye replied “a long time” and when asked about a new Whitest Boy Alive Record? “A very long time.” Øye is not the kind of artist who puts out new material every year. In fact the length of time between releases for many artists would see them forgotten, but Øye rewards his fans with quality and based on this performance we are not going to be disappointed any time soon.


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