Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Mattias Hellberg - Live Södra Teatern Stockholm, Aug 30th

Mattias Hellberg & Nikke Ström by Steve Worrall
Following The Soundtrack of Our Lives storming performance on the terrace outside the beautiful Södra Teatern, we were treated to Mattias Hellberg playing a superb set at the official after-show party. The room was absolutely packed out and it was difficult enough to breathe, let alone push my way to the front to try and take photographs. In fact earlier, the slightly over zealous security guards blocked off one handy entrance and that meant by the time I'd made it inside, I'd unfortunately missed the two opening numbers. This was disappointing as one of them was the excellent single "Oh No", taken from his latest album "High In The Lowlands", and a particular favourite of mine. Luckily, I caught "If My Heart", which was one of the new demo recordings I'd been lucky enough to hear. This really is a great song, and live it came across really well, with it's fuzzed up organ sound and stabbing rhythm, it would make a classic single. Hellberg has assembled a fantastic new line-up around him, The Fur Heads, who feature the super-cool bassist Nikke Ström from Nationalteatern. This great band play brilliantly and do complete justice to Hellberg's music, and his eclectic influences, but the main thing is they groove! Hellberg has always oozed Soul, whether it be in a stripped down acoustic style for example, with "High In The Lowlands" album, or the rawer psychedelic funk of The White Moose. 

I was not familiar with the next song, "Flying" but I certainly was with the one after, the brilliant "Final Call" from The White Moose album "Out Of The Frying Pan, Into The Woods". This album is barely off the stereo, I love it to bits. In fact I think it must rank amongst the best records released by a contemporary Swedish artist, and I was so pleased to hear him play a track from it. "Where Did You Go?" from his self-titled solo album was then followed by another wonderful new track "Wait For The Morning" which is another perfect single in-the-making. It has a beautiful laid back rhythm, with it's bongo led percussion and soulful backing vocals, and I think it is destined to be a crowd favourite for years to come. The great guitar riff to "A Sight Supreme" heralded some wild and enthusiastic applause and the song went down a storm with the audience. New number "Minor/Major Me" was a blissful soul searching delight, and "Shine On" was followed by the storming "Mermaid Stomp" from the White Moose album. The encores consisted of another White Moose number, the crazed "Good Day", "Love Is" and "Moon" from the latest record. The new album has almost been completed and Hellberg is now considering his options on how to release it. From the demos that I've heard and the way the songs came across live this is shaping up to be Mattias Hellberg's defining album and I can't wait for the finished product to be released.

All Photographs Copyright Steve Worrall 2012

Here's a video of the superb new song "Wait For The Morning"

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