Susanne Sundfør – The Barbican, London – 21 May 2018

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I had seen Susanne twice before quite recently, both lovely solo shows, but I was determined to get the full band and audio/visual experience she had only shown in Norway. The premise was for her to play her latest album ‘Music For People In Trouble’ in it’s entirety from start to finish, but with a unique massive visual overlay, as much art installation as concert. So glad I persevered and got a seat right in the middle at the front. I was justifiably excited!

This show was originally scheduled for Shepherds Bush Empire in February, but re-arranged. I bet it was to move this very special event to a more suitable venue since this was being filmed, hopefully out on DVD soon! And the move was fully justified, The Barbican being a superb theatre for acoustics and enabling the amazing see through screen in front of the performers for the incredible front projected images of digital moving art and performance footage. The effect was absolutely stunning.

Susanne and the band played the show in sombre black hooded cloaks. No audience interaction and the songs were pretty much segued together as on the album. Included were the same spoken interludes but with longer musical sections with more free jazz style improvisations featuring saxophonist André Roligheten and bassist Petter Eldh from Gard Nilsson’s Acoustic Unity trio. I was also completely made up to see Susanne joined by Gunhild Kristofferson and Megan Kovacs (of Bow To Each Other) for their gorgeous harmony vocals and keyboards.

Though I think a few in the audience were thrown by the very long sax, pedal steel and double bass solos (not me) I was spellbound and gripped by the astonishing visual display on top of wonderful performances of some of my favourite songs. Susanne is never less than perfect and manages to sing the songs differently every time, a special singing talent as well as being a great songwriter. There were hardly any pauses allowing applause during the show, but when the last notes of a brilliant version of Mountaineers rang out and after the spoken outro the audience jumped to their feet for a standing ovation and two ecstatic curtain calls. One of the shows of the century for me. Unforgettable!

10/11 – Attended by George

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