Palace Winter are a band I’ve been dying to see live. Formed by an Australian, Carl Coleman, and a Dane, Caspar Hesselager, their debut album “Waiting for the World to Turn” came out in 2016. I made it No 4 in my top ten for that year. I loved the melodies, the big sound, the mellifluous guitars and the washes of synthesiser. There’s a bit of 80s bands like Talk Talk and Tears for Fears in them, but also the pumping beats and the melancholy feel of a band like The War on Drugs. All with that Scandinavian (and Aussie) pop sensibility.
They played last Tuesday at the Sebright Arms in Bethnal Green, East London. Not my turf at all, but I liked the pub and the music space, which was in the basement. Probably held about 300 people. My friend Jon G came along too.
The support act was a singer-songwriter going under the name of The New Spring. He was Danish, his actual name Bastian Kallesloe. He introduced his songs both sincerely and amusingly. The topics were rather bizarre at times and he made light of that. But the tunes were good and he played the acoustic guitar beautifully. There was certainly a hint of Nick Drake in some of the sounds and melodies.
Palace Winter’s performance was mostly a showcase for songs off the forthcoming album, “Nowadays”, out in May. So, to me, they were unfamiliar, but they immediately struck a chord. There’s no doubt some will become great favourites. I particularly liked one which built and built and then built some more. If it was a dance number they would have been getting us ready for the drop, the moment where everything lets rip. It didn’t quite do that, but it was a great song. Throughout, all those Palace Winter qualities – great tunes, interesting sounds, big sounds, were there.
Carl and Caspar were accompanied by a guitarist and a drummer. The guitarist, who was a dead ringer for Paul Simenon in his Clash days, laid down some excellent soaring solos. The bass was coming from Caspar’s keyboards I guess. Carl sings with real passion and puts a lot of energy into his performance. He referred to Joe Strummer at one point – there’s a bit of Clash inspiration going on, even if the sounds are miles apart. An engaging character too – well he is an Aussie!
There were only three songs from “Waiting for the World to Turn”, which I was a bit surprised about. But they couldn’t have picked a better three: “Positron”, “Soft Machine” and “H.W Running”. Those three are bunched together on the album, and are the highlights for me, along with the last song, “Independence”. “Positron” opened the set and was awesome, especially those slow booming chords as the song grinds to a halt. The other two came together about two-thirds of the way through, and got a rousing reception.
So yeah, I wouldn’t have minded a bit more of a celebration of the first album, but it was a terrific, uplifting concert and augurs well for the new album. They return to London in October, when are playing the Oslo, Hackney, which is a really good venue. I will be there!