ROME @ ELECTROWERKZ
July 18th, 2015
Words: Ann Sulaiman
The neofolk scene can be full of surprises. Despite the low turnout at last weekend’s gig, a much higher outcome was in full attendance to see Apocalyptic folk band Rome, for the London show of their world tour. Accompanied by the likes of Naevus, Jo Quail and Of The Wand & The Moon on support, it was set up to be a more than promising concert in the Electrowerkz venue.
The show opened with local act Naevus, who were this time represented solely by frontman Lloyd James with his acoustic guitar. Pensive, sombre music strummed in the likes of ‘Chairs Are Men’, ‘Hasty Bastard’ and the whisper-shout refrain of ‘Idiots (Let Me In)’. Yet while his low toned voice and guitar did fill the front of the venue, there were still a few in the crowd who were chatting loud enough to overshadow his performance.
More respect was shown when London cellist Jo Quail climbed onto the stage with her uniquely skeletal instrument. After a casual self-introduction to the audience, she began the opening bars of her set. A light electronic backdrop provided thoughtful notes behind each sweep on first song ‘Jhanoem The Witch’, before rattled pucks moved into the loud, distorted ’Laurus’.
While there were some technical difficulties, namely in not playing the recorded voices for new, experimental song ‘Gold 3.20’; the audience stood immersed in Quail’s music.
Shortly it was time for Of The Wand & The Moon, where the same issue for Naevus seemed to repeat itself for this project. While musician Kim Larsen is the main mastermind, the absence of his band (and the use of only an acoustic guitar) was noted by some of his fans at the show.
In all honesty, this actually made Larsen’s set even more special to watch, as the sight of him standing alone with one instrument gave his performance a more organic, personal atmosphere. It was in this vein that songs like ’Shine Black Algiz’, ‘Lost In Emptiness’ and ‘Hold My Hand’ were delivered to the third tightly packed crowd of the evening. It also didn’t hurt that these tracks were already some of the more guitar-centric fare from Of The Wand & The Moon.
Then came the main headliners of the night, Rome.
Travelling with a band in tow, frontman Jérôme Reuter showed great humility towards his fans and new admirers as he walked onto the stage of the Electrowerkz venue, and continuously thanked everyone for coming. From the way everyone had clamoured towards the front to see him, one would have almost assumed that a more outspoken personality were playing, rather than an understated neofolk icon.
Reuter’s low baritone filled the air, as he played subdued piece ’The Accidents of Gesture’ followed by percussive song ‘Der Brandtaucher’. While Rome is known to have a variety of textures in its sound, its main strength of thoughtful, low key notes stayed the main focus for the first hour of their set. ‘A Farewell To Europe’, ‘Ballad of The Red Flame Lily’ and ‘Skirmishes’ saw out the end of this hour until 11pm, when Reuter chose to up the anté with more rock rhythms, synth and percussion thereon after.