Ida Maria - Tutu’s
Live Review

Ida Maria – Tutu’s, Kings College Student Union

This is the first time I’ve been to this venue, on the fourth floor of a building just north of the river Thames. It’s rectangular and there’s a balcony. Towards the back of the venue is a set of benches and some tables and seats. I head over to the left of the stage from my perspective and await the support act.

They duly arrive – white boys with guitars making Gang of Four noises, blended with some Cure and Bloc Party. They don’t say who they are. They plunge through songs with gusto, backed by an impressive and smiling drummer. The guitars and choices of riff and rhythm section make a good impression. They leave without much fuss – a band that I’d certainly like to see again, with a longer slot and a better mic sound check.

Ida Maria is 23 years old and from Nesna, in Norway. It’s a small university town where things are apparently fairly non-conventional. From boarding school in Bergen she headed to Uppsala in Finland. At one point, she was a member of the Norwegian Youth Choir. Dressing in a top hat, she appears on stage flanked by two male guitarists, both quite a way from her. The venue has a long, thin stage. Another thing to note is that Ida was diagnosed as a child with synaesthesia, where senses report to other senses. People can taste colours or see sounds. Ida sees colours in sound.

The music is stolid and unremarkable, despite the keen sense of showmanship. There are vague noises in the music press that Ida might be a Cardigans fronted by Bjork – I thought it was more a Bjork-style singer over the strains of a Led Zeppelin influenced rock band. Parts of the gig were like a Scandinavian version of The Music. ‘Leave Me, Let Me Go’ is a beautiful, moving song but the ethic is the epic, slow build-up, the heavy snare and kick with big bass slides at a leisurely pace all setting fire to a timed taper. The end of the song sees the dynamic build as she repeats the refrain. It’s powerful, but not revolutionary. ‘Forgive Me’ is all choppy, punky chords, sounds a little like a Six By Seven-lite. ‘Keep Me Warm’ ventures back to The Music, but ‘I Like You So Much Better When Your Naked’ (at least, that’s what I thought it was called’) is poor, and derivative, for veering away from these models.

The song is straight down four to the the floor noise and it jars with what’s come before. The crowd seem young, and Ida Maria arrives at the gig for me with a reputation for turning this kind of energy music into something Scandanavian and oddball; a post-punk Bjork with indie tendencies. But ‘Stella’ and ‘Oh My God’ are fairly monotonous and nowhere near as exciting as I’d been led to believe. Perhaps I’m wanting too much – I want a Television fronted by a Norwegian Bjork with an attitude problem. The voice is good and the show is solid; the reaching and the aspiration, the experimentation and the innovation, however, are not so strong.

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