Siamese

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author AP date 27/08/21 venue Hotel Cecil, Copenhagen, DEN

Under normal circumstances, my concert reviews tend to start with a fairly generic preamble about my past experiences with the band in question, the number of people in attendance and so forth — but tonight is anything but normal. Not only is this my first proper show since mid-February in 2020, it also marks the first time Hotel Cecil have been able to entertain a standing audience under no kind of COVID-19 related restrictions since Denmark went into its first lockdown a month after that show, and you can tell. Copenhagen’s alternative scene has showed up in droves to celebrate emerging out of a dark period, and whatever divisions and shortcomings the pandemic may have exposed in our society seem to have evaporated for the occasion, bringing everyone together in what honestly feels like a homecoming, both for the post-hardcore darlings of Siamese and all of us who have been missing the catharsis of live music the way it is meant to be experienced for more than 19 months.

All photos courtesy of Philip B. Hansen

Siamese

It is no wonder then, that when the houselights are dimmed to that familiar tune of amplifiers turning on, the venue is initially engulfed by a resounding cheer. The band then arrives from backstage with vocalist Mirza Radonjica sporting a wide grin and extending his arms like an old friend coming in for an embrace. “What are we fighting for?", he sings during the opening sequence of the brand new track “Heights Above” that kicks things off, and I’m half tempted to reply with "This!” — being able to dance, sing along and rage in a moshpit without a care in the world. An example of the latter also promptly erupts when the band follows it up with the heavy and intense “Home”, which sees them joined by Daze of June’s Benjamin Ganzhorn to stand in for the parts that Drew York of Stray from the Path growls on the studio version. Where people were somewhat timid about slamming into other bodies at first, this fearsome partnership between Ganzhorn and Radonjica does a great job in encouraging them to get bruised up like it’s 2019. I don’t join in myself, but then I’ve never been much of a mosher — more the beer nursing, head bobbing type amongst the calmer rear ranks of the crowd.

Still, from my safe distance it is no less obvious how genuinely touched Radonjica seems to be when he takes in the mass sing-song happening during “Soul & Chemicals” off the band’s 2017 album “Shameless” — one of the best examples of their penchant for infusing pop and R&B sensibilities into their heavy disposition. Hearing the room bellowing those whoa-ohs out in unison is a reminder that the online streaming events that substituted for shows during the (lock)downtime will never replace the real thing: that whirlwind of energy, and being able to feel the music through the antics of the musicians. Although his presence in the mix is often drowned by the promiscuous bass and drums, violinist Christian Hjort Lauritzen offers such antics galore, emphasising each bow stroke of his Joker-violin like it’s the last he’ll ever play as he twists and turns his way around the stage, while guitarist Andreas Krüger and bassist Mark Nommesen treat Joakim Stilling’s bass drum as a springboard for their countless leaps and jumps.

Those are a constant feature during the bouncy and energetic “Enough Ain’t Enough”, another taste of the band’s impending sixth studio album, as well as their emblematic cover of “Party Monster” by The Weeknd, and while at 17 songs in total this is the longest set Siamese have ever delivered, no one in the crowd seems to be lacking any energy to do their part. There are a couple of breathing breaks of course, such as the brand new ballad “Honest”, but there is no question that the overarching theme for the night is to enable us to release all of our pandemic induced, pent up frustration through a cathartic rock show. Indeed, the final third of the setlist is dominated by material designed to elicit movement and singing from the audience, with the likes of “Ablaze” and fan favourite “B.A.N.A.N.A.S.” emerging as standout moments. This shit is indeed bananas and just before it all culminates in the fantastic closing piece “Ocean Bed”, Radonjica makes a heartfelt plea for everyone to get those vaxxes into their shoulders so that nights like this can continue unimpeded.

The show eventually concludes with a glorious, a cappella moment in which the instrumentals cease and all that’s left is Mirza and the audience roaring “To tell you I’m sorry! I know that you worry!" together. It is a beautiful ending to an excellent show in which the only points of critique probably stem from the band’s needing to shake off the rust; the mix is somewhat muddy at times, obscuring some of their signature vocal, violin and sampled electro melodies, and in truth — while there is no shortage of gusto from the five musicians — I have seen more riveting performances from Siamese in the past. But I also know that I’m going to see more riveting performances from them in the future now the gear has kicked in, and the absolutely phenomenal response from the audience makes up for most of it anyway.

8

Setlist:

  • 01. Heights Above
  • 02. Home
  • 03. Soul & Chemicals
  • 04. Can’t Force the Love
  • 05. Tunnelvision
  • 06. Honest
  • 07. Animals
  • 08. Enough Ain’t Enough
  • 09. Rather Be Lonely
  • 10. Party Monster (The Weeknd cover)
  • 11. Cities
  • 12. Holy
  • 13. Ablaze
  • 14. Numb
  • 15. Not Coming Home
  • 16. B.A.N.A.N.A.S.
  • 17. Ocean Bed

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