Miike Snow – Nottingham Rescue Rooms, Wednesday February 10.
Although they have barely grazed the lower end of the charts in this country, Sweden’s Miike Snow have enjoyed a slow burning, word-of-mouth ascent, aided by steady support from Radio One and BBC 6Music. A capacity crowd at the Rescue Rooms greeted them with warm curiosity, as the six band members took to the stage in near darkness, their faces obscured by white dummy masks.
The masks stayed on for the first two numbers, before being cast aside halfway through recent single Black & Blue. This also marked the first appearance of lead and bass guitars, which added texture to the otherwise keyboard-dominated arrangements. The songs sounded heavier and more dance-based than their recorded counterparts, characterised by thickly throbbing synth riffs and brutally simple kick drum patterns. A melodic electric piano cut through the murk, offering counter-balancing sweetness.
Andrew Wyatt’s lead vocals were mixed low – one assumes deliberately – adding to the overall air of mystery, which was heightened by the low lighting and copious use of smoke. The players were lit entirely from the back of the stage, rendering them all but invisible from the back of the room. With little to concentrate on visually, we were left free to immerse ourselves in the intensity of the music. This worked best on beefy numbers such as Plastic Jungle and the band’s best known track, Animal, which spiralled to an ever-quickening climax before cutting to silence.
The hour-long set finished with a lengthy instrumental jam, which progressed from a free-form, beatless drone (inviting comparisons with Animal Collective) to a seemingly endless and oddly static dance workout, which didn’t quite hit the mark. Given that there was no encore, it made for a strange end to a performance which confounded many of our expectations.