Thursday, February 05, 2009


Gustav at the Volksbühne, Berlin; photo by Val PhoenixVolksbühne

A bit late with this one but I was dog tired when I got home. Not that the performance was enervating--far from it--but it was a long day.

And a curious one, surely for Viennese performer Gustav, who turned up without her guitarist Oliver Stotz. Imminent fatherhood kept him off the stage, with the result that the band advertised was keyboardist Elise Mory. Gustav commented on the situation a few times, with comic asides.

I was surprised at how powerful the songs were in a live setting and especially with a German-speaking audience, with whom she had great rapport. Gustav's two main expressions were furrowed brow (singing) and beaming (fiddling with her laptop). The contrast between her very light, almost babyish, voice and the content of her songs is stark, but the right balance was achieved on this night. (And if one is any doubt as to the ferocity of her opinions, check out this blog posting).

Because of the missing guitar, some songs were dropped and "We Shall Overcome" was reprised for an encore, but the setlist was well-executed, a mix of songs from her first album Rettet die Wale and last year's follow-up Verlass die Stadt.

Mory and Gustav had great chemistry, and I was amused to see the singer clamber on to the piano for a well-subverted torch version of "Rettet die Wale", while Mory tickled the ivories with a straight face.

And the baby, delivered two hours after the gig, was a boy.

Gustav will be taking part in the Audio Poverty conference this weekend.

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