It's all too easy to over-think music fuelled by punk-rock idealism. Bush Hall, London (June 5)
It’s all too easy to over-think music, fuelled by punk-rock idealism, a burning middle-class guilt or perhaps, if you’re unlucky, a bitter combination of the two. This could be why, for a large part of tonight’s gig, we truly believed that Get Well Soon’s Konstantin Gropper was the Devil. Forget horns, hooves, eternal damnation, this was it.
Perhaps realising that Sufjan Stevens perfected this sort of thing years ago, Gropper has smothered his songs with twice as much aural fanciness as his predecessor. There’s a trumpet and strings, saying, ‘Wow, this must be sophisticated and cultured, crack open the three-quid Merlot, guys’. Naturally, it’s easy to fall for and we’re completely suckered in, despite our better judgement. OK, everyone’s sitting down (the universal indicator of a gig that should be left immediately) and we wonder if behind every overblown sound there’s a fey bed-wetter with copies of Sounding Like Explosions In The Sky For Dummies and The Oxford Dictionary Of Romantic Clichés, but if you shake the sense that something’s not quite right, it’s horrifyingly listenable. ‘Ticktack! Goes My Automatic Heart’ and ‘Lost In The Mountains (Of Heart)’ show that beneath the nonsense is a talented singer-songwriter, screaming to be cut from the elaborate wreckage.
Still, despite what some have claimed, Gropper’s vocals are about as haunting as Caspar The Friendly Ghost, falling somewhere between Patrick Wolf after a nervous breakdown and Thom Yorke gargling. His maudlin cover of ‘Born Slippy’ is cringeworthy, and his band count among their number some truly awful beards, but OK, we’re really nit-picking now. This may not be as breathtaking, groundbreaking or epic as it thinks it is, but it’s not straight from the bowels of hell, it’s actually pretty good at heart. Music over reason, every time.