Tuesday 22 May 2012

Free Fall + Peter von Poehl + Marie Modiano with Martin Hederos at ÅÄÖ! Swedish Music Festival La Gaîté Lyrique Paris May 12th & 13th

Mattias Bärjed - by Steve Worrall
This weekend special, curated by singer-songwriter Peter von Poehl, was part of the ÅÄÖ! Swedish Music Festival being held at La Gaîté Lyrique in Paris by "l’Institut Suédois". Although von Poehl was the main star of the show, he was almost over-shadowed by the astounding musical talents of Martin Hederos. Martin, not only carried out his main role as keyboard player with The Soundtrack of Our Lives, but also played with, and arranged the orchestration for both Marie Modiano and Peter von Poehl. In fact, the only break Martin had over the two days, was to watch from the sidelines as his Soundtrack of our Lives colleague, and ex-Nymphet Noodlers bandmate, Mattias Bärjed, took to the stage with his new side-project Free Fall. As Free Fall also include Nymphet Noodlers' bassist Jan Martens, I was half expecting Martin to join them on stage for a run through of "Beautiful Day", but he manages to catch a well deserved break.

There's a song on the new Soundtrack of Our Lives Album called "Where's The Rock", well I think Mattias might have taken it with him to Free Fall. With recent TSOOL albums concentrating more on lush orchestration, maybe Bärjed is using Free Fall to express his undoubted love for Classic and Heavy Rock. As Free Fall take the stage for their first appearance outside Sweden, it is clear that heavy riffs are the order of the day. They take the Bluesy Rock of Led Zeppelin to another level and Vocalist Kim Fransson, certainly has an impressive Robert Plant style of singing. Underpinning the relentless riffing is Jan Martens' wonderfully fluid bass playing, a style I've always admired. He was, after all responsible for one of the best bass riffs ever on "Pole Position" from the Jan Martens Frustration days.

Free Fall - Photo by Steve Worrall
Drummer Ludwig Dahlberg, who has previously played with The (International) Noise Conspiracy, actually runs Martin Hederos close for most appearances over the weekend. He proves his versatility by pounding out the beat with Free Fall, but then also showing a defter touch with the more laid back sounds of Marie Modiano and Peter von Poehl. The band storm through a selection of so far unreleased tracks, such as "Power & Volume" and "World Domination" and they leave to a rousing send-off from the crowd.

Following Free Fall is Peter von Poehl with Martin joining on piano and keyboards. I was not aware of von Poehl before this weekend but he is obviously very popular in France as he gathered a large and very respectful audience. Maybe the use of his song "The Story of The Impossible" in the 2010 Vanessa Paradis movie "L'arnacoeur" has helped. Dividing his time between Malmö, Berlin and Paris his music seems to reflect this nomadic lifestyle and Martin Hederos' lush arrangement of the assembled string and woodwind ensemble is perfect. Martin also appears on his new album "Big Issues Printed Small" and that should be well worth checking out. The Saturday night draws to a close with Peter being joined on stage by Kim from Free Fall, Marie Modiano and Ebbot from The Soundtrack of Our Lives for a chaotic but fun run through of Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'". Click the title and you can see a video of this on the Retro Man Blog YouTube page.

Peter von Poehl - Photo by Steve Worrall
It was Martin's work with another ex-Nymphet Noodler, vocalist Mattias Hellberg, that for me first highlighted his talents outside of Rock music. Their Hederos & Hellberg side-project consisted of stunningly effective, minimalist cover versions, stripped down totally to piano and voice with the occasional acoustic guitar and harmonica. The Stooges played in the style of Erik Satie if you like. And on the Sunday afternoon his beautiful piano playing is to the fore as he joins Peter for an acoustic set in the beautiful surroundings of the traditional main room. Peter is a very engaging performer and the audience pack the room, filling every possible space. At the end of the performance, still strumming his guitar Peter suddenly leaves the room and Pied Piper style, leads the audience through to the main venue where both him and Martin take the stage with Marie Modiano.

Peter, Marie, Kim & Ebbot - Photo by Steve Worrall
Whilst Marie Modiano is a French singer-songwriter she qualifies to appear at this Swedish festival due to her collaboration with von Poehl and also it ties in with the fact that her excellent second album "Outland" was recorded at The Soundtrack of Our Lives Svenska Grammofon Studion in Gothenburg. The ubiquitous Martin Hederos also plays on the album along with Soundtrack of Our Lives bassist Kalle Gustafsson Jerneholm. Again, Martin's superb orchestration and arrangements bring the songs to life especially on the numbers from "Outland". Marie's Jazz tinged folk music also has an almost Scandinavian melancholy that mixes well with the French chanson style of some of the songs. There's also a Bossa Nova feel that reminds me of Nouvelle Vague, another band who like Hederos & Hellberg, perform cover versions in a totally unexpected style. The Single "The Islands & The Skerries" is a beautifully swaying number and "Twilight Rhapsody" brings to mind the simple piano and voice arrangement of Hederos & Hellberg. However, the highlights of Marie's set for me are the run of three songs from "Outland". Starting with "Last Early Spring", (click title for video), leading into the wonderful "The Hunter" and followed by the stand-out track, the sublime "Searching For Pearl". It's a superb, enchanting performance, and I am hooked.

Marie Modiano & Martin - by Steve Worrall
Then it's over, and you realize that Martin now has to gear up for The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Amazing, three sets with three different Artists in one afternoon! A quite staggering feat and I was thinking he must be exhausted, surely he needs a rest. But it doesn't seem there will be any time. The lights dim and Ebbot takes the stage alone with an acoustic guitar and starts to strum the beginning of the title track of the new album "Throw It To The Universe". Then one by one the band take the stage and the song bursts into life. But hang on, something is missing, the keyboard riff...Ebbot looks around bemused, as do the rest of the band, they play on, looking at the empty seat by the keyboards, Martin is not to be seen...! (To be continued...)

You can see lots more photos of all the bands and artists over the Weekend by "Liking" the Retro Man Blog Facebook page.

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