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2019-02-02

ESBEN AND THE WITCH + NADJA live at the Molotow, Hamburg (31.01.2019)

Esben And The Witch

Yes, I've fasted for a while, but on Thursday it finally was time for my first concert of the new year. And what an exquisit one it was!

The Molotow was packed, my body was ready, so let's get right into it:


Nadja


The ongoing tour that started with this concert sees varying support acts. This time it was the Canadian drone doomers Nadja.

Even though they do occasionally use vocals on their recordings, the two musicians presented an instrumenal show, which was basically one unbroken stream of fabulously slow drone. Standing on both sides of a stand with all the regular guitar and bass floor effects and some other stuff they didn't offer much of a visual performance - unless that the bass player consequently played the whole thing with her back to the audience, which was already kind of admirable, since as a player this gives you no clue of the audience reaction.

The music, which incorporated dragging and stumbling electronic beats, reminded me of a slowed down version of oldschool Godflesh (or say "Cop" phase Swans) with added thick layers and loops of Sunn O))) style guitars and influences from shoegaze and post rock in the vein of Russian Circle, who probably came to mind as an example because of "Nadja" being a popular Russian name, but fuck it, the comparison is still right.

I loved the sound, the density and intensity of it. A great uneasy but beautiful listening to start off a winter night. All thumbs up for Nadja!



Esben And The Witch


Honestly, when I'm about to see a group which I know from Roadburn Festival I am usually a bit sceptical. The festival is so good to the artists and bathes them in that special vibe, that they mostly deliver performances on the top of their game, which makes you rightfully wonder whether they are able to put off a similar quality on a regular tour date.

Especially Esben And The Witch set the bar high. From have only seen a couple of Youtube clips they went right to being my favorite act of the day with their 2017 Roadburn show, which was later consequently released as one of my since most listened-to live albums.

Most of the songs from that show were played in Hamburg as well, mixed with some other old stuff and of course material from their recent album "Nowhere".


I could write about the songwriting now, how I love the balance of the arrangements, which always allow their genre-defying post punk/noise/gothic to fruition to maximal effect. How I dig the individual style of the drummer, especially the use and selection of cymbals. (Will surely bring a bag and steal those next time.)
And of course about how hauntingly amazing Rachel Davies' vocals are; so raw and pure, yet so delicate and evocative. If she cannot bring you goosebumps in the finale of the epic "The Jungle" you have no soul. Not judging, but that's just the way it is.

But the whole synopsis of this (and more) is that everything in Esben And The Witch's music centers around the perfect juxtapostion of ostensible simplicity with emotional complexity. This trio is just an amazing, captivating and cathartic band. Go see them, they are among the best the recent scene has to offer!

There may not have that special festival spirit around, but the audience still remained standing and demanding a second encore for a significant time. Yes, Esben And The Witch surpassed my high expectations. The concert year couldn't have started better.




Nadja:




Esben And The Witch:

 





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