Every now and then a new band comes crashing through the roof of the musicverse with sufficient clamour to attract my attention. One such band that hit me on the bonce with a blast of sonic rubble during the latter half of 2015 was Danish duo, Palace Winter.
Having met on the road in 2013, Caspar Hesselager and Carl Coleman cooked up enough of a connection to go into a Copenhagen studio in early 2014 and randomly rock out with each other to see what happened. What happened was the monstrously good ‘Medication’ EP and the bones of a debut album, which word has it, should see the light of day in Spring 2016.
To fuel an already lit London fire, the boys flew in for a whirlwind 48 hour whizz through an acoustic Rough Trade in-store and a very electric London debut at Birthdays in Dalston.
Palace Winter add two musician friends to the mix for their live shows – drummer, Jens Bach and guitarist, Jacob Haubjerg and they certainly give depth and energy to what is an already pretty identifiable Palace Winter trademark sound.
A short but very sweet set-list consisted of a full sweep of the five-track EP with the addition of a cover of the Elliot Smith track, ‘Christian Brothers’ and the debut of new number, ‘Hearts to Kill’.
Psyched and full of vim, front-man Carl Coleman opened the show by launching into a blistering rendition of ‘Stockholm’ which saw him flex his guitar skills to the full. This guy can play some seriously mean electric guitar riffs.
Switching to acoustic for the wickedly good ‘Time Machine’, Coleman once again took his guitar playing to another level, rocking out on an extended instrumental during which he didn’t just make the guitar sing, he made it squeal with pleasure, and, the crowd hoot with delight.
After a strong performance of latest single, ‘New Ghost’ the guys launched into fan favourite, hit song ‘Menton’, during which Hasselager excels at some very complex synth layering and sampling. Probably one of their strongest songs, with its elongated rollercoaster instrumental it was certainly a crowd pleaser.
Interestingly, the songs lost none of their wide, cinematic feel during the live performances – something which could so easily have happened in the confines of a small venue. Instead, Palace Winter actually succeeded in making them sound even more “larger than life” than they already sound on the EP. No mean feat, and a testament to the proficiency of their adept musicianship.
New track ‘Hearts to Kill’ goes down a more Rock n Roll road than Palace Winter have so far travelled. It’s a pacey, catchy song punctuated by a strong instrumental and some pretty deft drumming. Heavy on the beats is standard PW fare.
Coleman certainly knows how to work an audience and with his ebullient personality manages to cross over into the crowd without having to move – his extroverted, easy manner effortlessly takes him there.
Standout performance of the night was the electrifying cover of ‘Christian Brothers’ which I wish everyone had the chance to hear. It was an outstanding rendition of what is a crackingly good song, with Coleman taking the vocal by the proverbial throat and literally belting it beyond recognition of the original. This is a song that has been covered by rock-monsters Queens of the Stone Age, but Palace Winter smashed it to pieces.
The set closed with ‘Woke in the Night’ which I had initially thought a rather odd choice to round off the evening until I heard it live. This is a classic song in all senses of the term, highlighting not just Palace Winter’s exceptional abilities as singers and musicians, but also their finely honed song writing skills. It brought the set to a well-rounded close. As far as gigs go, this was one of the best live performances I’ve seen this year, and having now seen them play live, I am firm in the opinion that Palace Winter are going to become a musical tour-de-force over the coming twelve months.
Palace Winter are a well synced, hugely creative and hugely talented pairing who have shied away from following their peers down the road of mainstream, instead choosing to go where their musical hearts take them. And it shows. They have chosen a blend of musical genres that allow them to flex their instrumental talents, lyric writing skills and production muscle. Undefinable but always identifiable, theirs is a sound that has caught the attention of savvy media across Europe, especially in Denmark and the UK, where BBC6 Music can’t get enough of track, ’Menton’.
So far the Palace Winter guys have done everything right, Bubbling away just under the surface, it can’t be long before things start to heat to boiling point for these dudes. One can’t help wondering how explosive things will get for Palace Winter when their album debuts next year.