Vega, Copenhagen, April 2
Danish indie-rock is having a bit of a moment right now, what with Oh Land, The Kissaway Trail… er… Efterklang? OK, perhaps it’s pushing it to say there’s a major scene developing.
But when NME got an invite to go and watch electro rockers Veto, one of the country’s best-loved bands, play a show in Copenhagen for 4000-odd baying (and beautiful) fans – in a stylishly retro venue that’s more Sterling Cooper office than Shoreditch grotbucket – we were hardly going to say no, were we?
Before we get to all that, though, a few words on support act Morning Parade. They’re not from Denmark, they’re from Essex, and singer/guitarist Steve Sparrow has the porcine features a young Jamie Oliver crossed with a handsome troll. They’re really very good, in a heroic, Coldplay ‘Clocks’ kind of way, though they’re much better when they ease off on the reach-for-the-lasers synth stuff and stamp on the big guitar pedal marked ANTHEMIC ROCK.
They’ve just signed to Parlophone, and you can see why – there are choruses here you could park an ocean liner in. It’s just a shame the public’s appetite for this sort of thing is the lowest it’s been in over a decade. Let’s hope they get played on the radio. If they do, the Q-reading/V Festival-frequenting mainstream rock vote is theirs for the taking. That sounds like faint praise. It’s not meant to. Morning Parade deserve to find an audience.
When Veto take the stage, the first thing that strikes you is: Fuck, I can’t see a thing. That’s because Danish people are so freakishly tall. Seriously, this is one strapping crowd, populated almost exclusively by hulking six-and-a-half footers with square jaws and leonine hair. And that’s just the women. At one point I was tempted to shatter a pint glass over my head out of shame for my puny English body, and just run around with blood streaming down my face howling “DON’T LOOK AT ME!”
But anyway. Veto. They’ve been around for a while – their current album ‘Everything Is Amplified’ is their third – which means they’re a fearsomely powerful live unit. And singer/keyboard player Troels Abrahamsen is a surprisingly magnetic focal point, whose keening, incisive vocals belie his unassuming bearded-cherub appearance (is that possible: a bearded cherub? Whatever).
Veto specialize in a certain kind of glowering, Depeche Mode-style electro, and their songs all have vaguely menacing and gloomy titles such as ‘You Are A Knife’. Super-fun happy guys they are not – but then if you lived in a country where pubs charged £5 for a pint you’d be pretty grumpy too. Other points of comparison? I suppose they occupy a midpoint between the stern arena-indie of Editors, and (in their more full-on moments) Enter Shikari’s sweat-drenched electro-rock.
The latter quality is most in evidence during ‘Blackout’, which climaxes with a startlingly powerful half-sung, half-rap section – an echo of the band’s early days, when they were signed to a hip-hop label. Certainly, Abrahamsen is an accomplished lyricist, even though he sings in English. You could argue that the fact a Danish bloke can write more interesting and less cliché-ridden words than a lot of British bands right now is a pretty poor indictment on the current standard of British indie songwriting.
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Could Veto cross over here in the UK? They’ll probably need more in the way of tunes, as opposed to elegant atmospheres. But hey, there’s always room on these shores for another band of miserable beardy blokes who can whip up an athemic storm onstage. Demark’s best kept secret? Go on then.