Broken Twin – St John’s, Bethnal Green (Live Review)

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From the geographic surrounds, Bethnal Green may seem an inauspicious location for the minimal, introspective lo-fi artist Broken Twin – the new solo-musical project by Dutch vocalist and songwriter Majke Voss Romme.

However once inside, the melodramatic architecture of St John’s, with gaping vaulted ceilings, deep wooden pews and larger than life statue glowing apocalyptic blue green above the altar made a sharply juxtaposing backdrop for the vastly understated, undulating, stripped back to the bare bones melancholic sparseness of Broken Twin.

Delivering such familiar tunes as 2013 single ‘Sun Has Gone’ and tracks from upcoming debut album ‘May’, Majke was joined on stage by three piece band consisting violin, programmer/bassist and second guitarist, with Majke taking up guitar and keys by turns.

The foursome more than delivered musically, filling the built-to-purpose acoustics of their setting with sultry, ethereal heart rending folk fusions. Majke’s vocals were particularly striking, as were the unfaltering, emotive violin and occasional bowed electric bass guitar – the overall acoustic effect was a magical and, as fits the setting – spiritual one. The band emanated a sense of focus and unswerving introspection which, though enchanting, proved to be somewhat disconcerting for the audience as the set went on.

 

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Both the formal church setting and lack of variation in the mood of the setlist demanded more of the performers than simply to play beautifully. In order to keep the audience’s entranced attention a more demonstrative performance and spectator-artist communication was called for.

With little to no audience acknowledgement, Twin Shadow turned an intimate concert into a somewhat disjointed affair. This was watching four people play, and not the closely shared, emotively infused, transcendent experience that, by the sound of the music, one would expect.

Still, the four left the stage to quietly enthusiastic applause and returned with an encore of the much loved Johnny Thunders cover ‘You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory.’

And for the first and only time during the set Majke actually glanced up at the audience and cracked a smile.

Debut album ‘May’ out April 28th on Anti records

Photo: Ricky O’Conner