15th October | Louisiana
When they’re not busy creating magical dreamscapes across the country and stunning audiences, Ålesund have time to pop back to their home turf of Bristol to dazzle us and the line-up of support acts were guaranteed to make anyone’s heart all fuzzy.
First support of the night, Claire Northey, worked her magic and enchanted the crowd with her violin. Creating vast soundscapes with a violin and a handful of pedals, Claire would dart animatedly to and from the microphone whilst she looped the bass and the backing track – all only using her violin. I’d never seen anybody contort their instrument like that before, manipulating every single part to make it sound as though she had a full live band on stage.
Fusing trip-hop and World music, it was an eclectic mix which amalgamated wonderfully. She spoke of when she first moved to the UK from France and how “everyone was a singer songwriter, so I wrote this.” ‘The Moon’ was said response. The lyrics were likeably naive and they definitely suited her voice which, at times, teetered on the Stanlaey side. Claire was charismatic and won us over.
This was Tamasene’s first official outing as a full band. Many of us had the pleasure of seeing a stripped-back version a fortnight ago, only consisting of keys and acoustic guitar, so the promise of a full outing was exciting. Tamasene emit a tranquil warmth. If only you could bottle up their songs and use them as insulation on frosty nights. Woozy synths and soul-soothing three-part harmonies were enough to make you melt.
‘Daydreams and Limousines’ featured an extraordinary acoustic lick a-la ‘Embryonic Journey’ with a bit more folk-pop thrown in. Their sound was massive compared to the minimal get-up when they appeared previously. If only it had all lasted longer.
Ålesund arrived without warning. There was no introduction; they went straight to the nitty gritty. Alba Torriset on vocals and keys wore a floor-length burnt orange gown. You couldn’t help but see the resemblance to gold-dust woman, Stevie Nicks. Ålesund began to build an atmosphere filled with ethereal synths and throbbing drum and bass. The addition of Sam Woollcott on baritone trumpet added a touch of beefy warmth to the space.
Lyricially there was a mythical property to most of the songs with nods to ‘distant lands’. It felt as though folklore was being retold and it was an incredibly immersive experience. The low ceiling of The Loui, along with packed bodies, made it a little stuffy, with Alba commenting on how hot it was, especially in front of stage lights. Those who are stubbornly not allowing the central heating to go on anytime soon took a minute to appreciate the sweatiness.
Ålesund’s set was exhilarating, swirling synth sections and an encore which was “probably the first time in the band’s history we have one more song.” Ending with the cinematic ‘Shift & Flux’, Ålesund have cemented their fan following in Bristol along with the title of premier dreamscapers.
See ‘If You Let Me’ performed live in session here: