Dizzy Mizz Lizzy

support Psyched Up Janis + Bersærk
author AP date 16/04/22 venue Royal Arena, Copenhagen, DEN

At last, after two years of constant postponements, the grand culmination of Dizzy Mizz Lizzy’s cycle for their latest studio album is finally happening. These Danish alternative rock darlings are set to play one of their biggest headlining shows yet — and the air inside the venue is thick with anticipation. I, too, am contributing to the atmosphere, having looked forward to this concert ever since “Alter Echo” dropped and climbed to near the top of my favourite albums of 2020, and it certainly doesn’t hurt either that I will finally get to watch another iconic Danish act live in their capacity as the support act: Psyched Up Janis. Bar, beer, to the floor — I’m ready to be impressed.

All photos courtesy of Lykke Nielsen

Bersærk

Although this Århusian quartet have proven themselves as a live force to reckon with countless times, including two triumphant performances at Copenhell in 2016 and 2018, I have admittedly been wondering whether they would be able to pull it off in an arena setting as well. On paper, their hard hitting, Danish language stoner metal is not the worst pick for warming up this crowd, and as their show gets underway to the groovy tune of “Blod & Stål” off their latest outing “SOL” from 2020, there are quite a few heads banging along with approval. The first thing one notices about the set is without a doubt the deafening volume and low end favouring mix, in which Jens Moss Thorsen’s bass guitar and the drums of Simon Gleerup Meiner deliver punch after punch straight into the gut. It sounds very insistent and is bolstered by a customarily imposing Casper Roland Popp, whose confidence and abilities as a vocalist send his powerful roars resonating through the arena in songs like “Blodmåne”, and in particular the surging “Mørke” off the band’s 2017 début album “Mulm”.

With Thorsen and guitarist Lars Evers rubbing the necks of their axes together to generate even more noise in the crescendo of that song, the audience seems well and truly awakened — just in time for the final two songs, “Skyggeland” from 2018’s “Jernbyrd” and “Dæmring” off the aforementioned “Mulm” to send rounds of tremors through the venue to claps and whistles. This is a short, yet effective showing from these darlings of Danish metal, one that proves Bersærk have what it takes to handle a crowd of any size. Given the size of the venue and the fact that most people in attendance are probably not even familiar with the band though, their performance is inevitably less intimate than usual and could have done with some kind of additional visual element to fill that void. Indeed, while Bersærk hardly put a foot wrong during this concert, I’d still choose watching them in a smaller venue any day.

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Psyched Up Janis

Having made their début during the height of the grunge movement in 1994 with their “Swell” album, this trio was going to be Denmark’s bid for stardom in that popular genre. But the group never did manage to break through outside the Danish borders, and after their initial break-up in 1999, they rather developed a reputation as something of a cult band in the domestic scene. They are well loved around these parts though, especially among those who grew up with Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and their ilk, and this becomes very evident when the lights are flicked on and the band unceremoniously launch into “Special One” off their 1998 offering “Enter the Super Peppermint Lounge”. In keeping with the grunge style, the visuals are more or less monochromatic, with pale shades of light shining through a thin, paisley backdrop, while the trio’s posture and showmanship has that distinct slacker vibe. Like Bersærk, Psyched Up Janis benefits from a nigh perfect sound mix, which allows the distinctive voice of frontman Sune Rose Wagner — not unlike that of Billy Corgan — to cut through the noisy and distorted instrumentals with ease and allowing the thousands of fans inside the venue to sing along to an assortment of classics like “Where the Lights Won’t Shine” (taken from 1997’s “Beats Me”) and the much adored “I Died in My Teens” off the aforementioned “Swell”.

But while the fuzzy and laid back style of Psyched Up Janis’ music has always spoken to me, it is easy to understand why the band never broke through internationally; they simply don’t have those smash hits their Seattle-born colleagues wrote. It is full of impassioned moments like the frenetic screams that erupt out of “Subsonic Why”, or the emotive guitar solo in the moody and balladic “Strange Pier”, but perhaps with the exception of “The Stars Are Out”, there is a distinct lack of instantly recognisable hooks and memorable choruses in the music that dampens the experience for the non-diehards such as myself somewhat. There are several moments during the 13-track set that almost generate the kind of goosebumps experience one always hopes to have at a concert, but not quite. Which, I suppose, is the story of the band’s career as well. Be that as it may though, the elegant lighting, and the trio’s purposefully lethargic, yet also intimate attitude on stage nonetheless renders Psyched Up Janis’ concert here quite enjoyable, albeit probably a bit less so for myself than those crowd members who grew up with this band.

7

Dizzy Mizz Lizzy

It is a bold statement from Dizzy’ to start their concert with the first four parts of their progressive masterpiece “Amelia”, played without pause. But then in all honesty, the album that houses that piece, 2020’s “Alter Echo”, signalled that the alternative rock trio has perhaps outgrown the majority of their fanbase, which is only underlined by the fact that around me, lots of people are proverbially left scratching their heads, wondering what happened to kicking things off with a staple or two, and in a few cases having never even heard “Amelia” before. It is an amusing feeling, realising that I’m probably going to love all of the stuff getting aired tonight that most people will dislike, but watching these icons — bolstered by a session keyboard player tonight — rip through 20 minutes of this composition with a tightness and playfulness that defies belief, I have to say that you are fool if you disapprove of the darker, progressive tendencies the group has developed of late. It is awe-inspiring to witness frontman Tim Christensen and his cohort, bassist Martin Nielsen and drummer Søren Friis, delivering this piece to perfection, yet also seamlessly adding new licks and fills to it as though they were in a rehearsal space, jamming it out for the first time. I would not be exaggerating to say that these 20 minutes provide one of the most intense live experiences I have had in years — and judging by the thunderous applause that erupts when it finally ends, the band seems to have won over some of their more skeptical, old-school oriented fans as well.

After such a strong beginning, there is always the danger of the rest of the show deflating — but Dizzy Mizz Lizzy are not about to let that happen, delivering a magnificent rendition of the “Alter Echo” pairing “Ricochet” and “In the Blood” straight away. It earns the first mass singalong from the brimming arena, a deserving setting for the symphonic grandeur of the track’s later minutes, and the roars of approval only grow louder when Christensen & co. transition into “Brainless” off their 2016 outing “Forward in Reverse” without a break in between. I am starting to feel the energy from the audience now as well, even though any of the band’s classics are yet to be played; such is the nerve with which the four musicians are performing. Despite the size of the venue and stage, the band feels very present and eager, as if they had something to prove (and I suppose they do, considering that this particular show was originally supposed to happen two years ago…) — yet they also seem hellbent on doing things on their own terms, as the semi-acoustic rendition of the fan favourite “Love Is a Loser’s Game” (taken from their self-titled 1994 début album) goes to show. Personally, I would have preferred to experience the emotive crescendo in that song played in its fully glory, even though I will also admit that this more subdued interpretation works wonderfully as well. The lyrics read even more fragile than usual this way.

Returning to my initial comments, there are people around me literally exclaiming: “Finally! Something I know!" when that song and the title track to the band’s 1996 album “Rotator” have been aired, and while I can appreciate their mass appeal, the band members themselves are visibly playing with more passion in the proggier likes of “67 Seas in Your Eyes”, its blinding guitar solo seeming to send Christensen to the verge of tears, and the nearly five-minute, jazzy jam segment in the end of it giving me those same feels. Dizzy Mizz Lizzy are a rock band in the truest sense of the word, unafraid to unfold themselves and their music in new and interesting ways so that not everything sounds exactly as it does on record. This also comes to light in the beautiful and somewhat unexpected final track “Say It to Me Anyway”, though sadly many of the thousands of people that have just been jumping up and down during the riff feast that is “Waterline” are now doing their very best to ruin the experience with their loud, drunken chatter. Clearly, they have not noticed the shut-eyed Christensen bending back with his guitar, feeling every single note of this balladic, seven-minute epic and singing with more passion than ever before — or perhaps people have simply forgotten the meaning of respect during the long and arduous COVID-19 lockdowns. Fortunately, the mix is loud enough to drown out most of it and I am able to reach a nigh transcendental state as the song reaches its climax, one that is soon repeated during the band’s most revered classic, “Silverflame”, which concludes the show and encore in stunning fashion, with lighters and phone torches flickering all over the venue. An absolutely stunning concert from a band that seems reawakened!

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Setlist:

  • Amelia - Part 1: Nothing They Do They Do for You
  • Amelia - Part 2: The Path of Least Existence
  • Amelia - Part 3: Lights Out
  • Amelia - Part 4: All Saints Are Sinners
  • The Ricochet
  • In the Blood
  • I Would If I Could But I Can’t
  • Brainless
  • The Middle
  • Love Is a Loser’s Game
  • Glory
  • Rotator
  • 67 Seas in Your Eyes
  • Waterline
  • Say It to Me Anyway

— Encore —

  • Thorn in My Pride
  • Silverflame

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