IAMJJ

support Julie Ellinor
author LL date 05/04/18 venue Hotel Cecil, Copenhagen, DEN

The Danish singer-songwriter IAMJJ appeared on my radar with the release of his eponymous debut EP back in 2016 and immediately caught my interest with his dark voice that instantly drew comparisons to the styles of Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits or Nick Cave. Recently, then, he released his debut full-length "Bloody Future" featuring those same five songs as well as eight new ones that exist on a spectrum between catchy rock and more decidedly pop works. Especially the guitar work on them intrigued me enough that I simply had to go to this evening's sold out release show to see if he could deliver the same intensity live with a full band as he does on record. The short answer to that is "Hell yes!" but you can read on to see why in more detail.

All pictures by Michael Hyldgaard Løgtholt

Julie Ellinor

Just a few days before the show, the singer-songwriter Julie Ellinor was announced as support and she appears tonight alone for a semi-acoustic set of some unreleased tracks as well as a couple from her 2017 EP "Voyage". She starts out with my favorite from that, a fragile song called "The Woods" with a very recognizable chorus. There's just a slight echo on her vocals which is certainly a nice touch that helps her fill out the very open room in a subtle way. After the first song, she seems to strike a more confident style for the rest of the set, doing her best to open up the emotional songs to us with different techniques like introducing a more rhythmic pulse with soft beats on her guitar for "Black and Blue" or pulling away a bit from the microphone for an altered vocal sound in "Vertigo". As the songs get quieter and the venue fills up with more people, of course, there is the element of a constant buzz of talking and laughing in the bar and in the back of the room. Up front, it's just quiet enough that it doesn't become a major problem but it's still a source of some annoyance just a few rows further back. Ellinor tackles this pretty calmly, asking with a somewhat cheeky grin whether we're getting impatient or what, getting a bunch of laughs and smiles to appear on those of us who are more carefully following her performance. She finishes her short set with the indie folk single "Voyage" that gets the audience rocking a bit on their feet. While she has a splendid, soft voice and a good sense of melody in her songs, the acoustic solo show would definitely be lifted by some of the diversifying effects of piano or brass instruments that help carry the songs in recorded form. Nevertheless, a fine performance.

Setlist:

  • 1. The Woods
  • 2. Black and Blue
  • 3. Vertigo
  • 4. We Align
  • 5. Voyage

IAMJJ

IAMJJ operates normally as a solo act but tonight he has a full band with him, meaning the appearance of a bassist, guitarist, and drummer, as well as a keyboardist doubling as the backup singer. They enter the stage and kick off the show with the uplifting and booming intro of the amazing single "Clyse" before Jakob Stenfatt Jensen himself walks in to applause from all around and begins crooning energetically. He is a tall and somewhat sturdy presence and yet he somehow manages to shift seamlessly between planting himself like a steadfast rock and at other times moving in an almost floating, graceful manner around the stage. From this chameleon of a man, then, floats a voice that also moves elusively between velvety and coarse qualities. The band supports his center stage role perfectly, all four grooving along in each their own way, visibly engaged in the tightly knit compositions of the songs. The unit as a whole sound insanely good in the mix as well and I find myself pleasantly surprised at exactly how ridiculously well-playing they are throughout the one-hour set tonight.

They play through almost all of the songs from the new album, just in a differently arranged order that makes the set flow very well between upbeat sections interspersed with a few ballads. Maybe because the band is at their most outwardly energetic and seem most dedicated during the more playful songs, those are also the ones that make the very best impressions tonight. Especially when they interact with each other during songs, the energy feels a bit electric.

The sly "Lion of the Beach", the upbeat and catchy "Super Hero Eva", and "Bomay Roof" with tremolo guitar and dance-friendly vibes all get wild responses and really shines in their playful use of guitar distortion and riffs that evolve and change through the songs. The surf-like "If I Took You to the Ocean" as well as the quiet and melancholically dragging "Susie May" also each add diversifying elements to the set and for the acapella ending of the latter, the audience is in fact almost entirely silent, which is quite magical. The poppier songs "Homer" and "Different Kind of Blues" that appear towards the end of the evening get a great response before the sensual title track "Bloody Future" ends the encore with its irresistible, driving beat and rhythmic chorus and the whole band takes a well-deserved bow. Before I might have only been a somewhat casual fan but after this solid performance that even reaches a few magical moments here and there, I am certain this will not be the last time I go out and see IAMJJ live.


Setlist:

  • 1. Clyse
  • 2. You In My Arms
  • 3. Supersonic
  • 4. Lion of the Beach
  • 5. Super Hero Eva
  • 6. If I Took You to the Ocean
  • 7. Bomay Roof
  • 8. China
  • 9. Susie May
  • 10. Homer

— Encore —

  • 11. Different Kind of Blues
  • 12. Bloody Future

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