Choir Of Young Believers | Oslo | 8 April 2016
Choir Of Young Believers is a fluid entity. Self-described as “Jannis Noya Makrigiannis and friends”, live lineups can feature the singer-songwriter-guitarist accompanied by just a piano or cello.
Tonight it’s a full band – keyboard player, drummer, bassist, and a guy hunched over a flightcase – who help the frontman recreate, and sometimes even surpass, the mournful beauty of his studio recordings.
The longing set opener ‘Next Summer’, for example, slightly thaws the icy heart of the version on 2008’s ‘This Is For The White In Your Eyes’. ‘Serious Lover’, the first of several songs from this year’s dreamy ‘Grasque’, amplifies the ‘80s synth bassline without overpowering the subtleties of Makrigiannis’ woozy vocals. The seductive ‘Sedated’ remains the ultimate showcase of his ethereal falsetto (and perfectly complements the moody Oslo lighting). The jangly indiepop of ‘Patricia’s Thirst’ turns up the sunshine only temporarily: even without an acoustic guitar, string section, and choir of backing singers, ‘Hollow Talk’ remains as tender and evocative as ever.
Even more powerful, though, is newcomer ‘Gamma Moth’. A cascade of vocal samples and minor keyboard notes, it slowly spreads its wings to reveal a brightly coloured big-beat anthem that rivals the classic ‘Action/Reaction’ in terms of soar and swing.
But the almost speechless Makrigiannis saves the best for last. The slow-burning but optimistic ‘Grasque’ standout ‘Face Melting’ feels less considered and even more cinematic in the flesh, slowly transforming into a spacey soundtrack awash with keys, synths, and samples – a perfect representation of the Choir Of Young Believers sound.