The Nordic Giants duo, Loki and Roka are expressed in the form of mythical creatures, hunched and covered in feathers. Their whole production is set to play on all the senses with blacked out stages drenched in lingering fogs, accompanied by cinematic brilliance with short, award wining, films streamed in the background on a white screen framing their obscure silhouettes.
The Nordic Giants duo, Loki and Roka, are a feast for the ears, the eyes and the soul. Their music has been compared to the likes of Icelandic band Sigur Ros, The Knife and Pink Floyd amongst others. As I have already reviewed their album, which you can read here, this review will concentrate on the experience.
It only seemed right that I took along my friend that originally introduced me to this awesome duo and we couldn’t have been happier to be experiencing this in the intimate venue of the Manchester Deaf Institute.
Having got to the venue ridiculously early it didn’t take much deciding on where to go. Pub Zoo across the road is not only a bar of lush grime and rock music but it also has a monkey on their sign…. what is not to love!
The deaf institute has pushed its way onto a par with the Ritz as best venue for me so far. It has a great little bar downstairs which you can entertain yourself in before and after the gig. However for me the actual room itself won me over. Small, dark, old school decor with bad wall paper. Had my friend and I not being so idiotic in thinking we were, for some reason, being incorrectly papped by some lady, we may have not turned our heads to admire the plethora of old speakers which donned the wall behind the bar. Very cool and I wish my house would withstand such a feature… one day maybe… along with my piano.
There are steps pushing upwards from the back of the room to sit and take it all in or there is also a balcony you can view from the comfort of some ragged leather seating. Personally I wanted to be right at the front to prevent as many bobbing heads from obstructing my view as possible, yes that’s right right, I wanted to in fact be a bobbing head myself. This also may have partially been because I was being accompanied by my friend who is in fact a living breathing smurf.
For anyone that is now thinking am not PC in calling my friend a smurf here is a portrait I drew of her to allow you to decide for yourselves. I will admit its not my best work…. I was a little drunk when I created this master piece.. but still… it gives a pretty good imitation. She had it as her profile picture for a while…so I can only assume she agrees.
Anyway… back to the gig….
The whole room was plunged into an eerie darkness from the start with only the bar and lighting from the merchandise table to set the scene, the offerings being vinyls, albums, Nordic Giant feather ‘get ups’ and at the center sat one of the masks that features in the music video Rapture.
The stage set up simply with a large box at the front of the stage lit up with the Nordic Giants logo and a large screen in the background.
When the Nordic Giants came on the room filled and instantly he air grew clammy, perfect for that claustrophobic effect that was warned about on their advertisments.
The box at the front of the stage flickered into life along with the main screen. These always play the same videos or animations but sometimes the smaller box has the various singers displayed in all their glory. Beth Cannon is as beautiful as her voice and just as captivating.
Many people got sucked into the short films, however I was mesmerized by the strobes that sent my eyes into a flickering frenzy as I caught glimpses of the mythical creatures through the bright lights. A real life zoetrope that had me suspended in complete amazement, wanting to see more.
Due to this I barely watched the films being streamed in the background as I couldn’t take my eyes away from trying to see more of the energetic and animated drummer. He gave his all into the character with dramatic arm movements that he seemed to have to physically hold onto when it wasn’t his turn, holding onto his sticks tightly to prevent himself from having a unrehearsed outburst.
When he wasn’t immersing his whole body into being part of his drum kit he made unearthly sounds playing a guitar with a bow. So unusual, so unnerving yet absolutely beautiful.
I tried, without avail, to get a really good photograph but it didn’t help that a particular photographer arrogantly kept popping up and standing in just about everyones way. There were three photographers in total and two were amazing, always checking around them and being aware of their surroundings and people who had come to watch the show. Whereas this other dude actually pushed my friend out of the way whilst she was taking a photo to get into position himself. It beyond irritated me and I hope, sincerely, that he is not part of the Nordic crew and other people do not have to endure this irritating unwarranted additional performance.
The Nordic Giants play a range of videos. Some videos are funnily disturbing, some are sad and some are heart warming animations.
Personally I love the sad sentiments of Shine. I love the beautiful little black creature that, through the kindness of their own kind heart, ends up alone.
The Nordic Giants deliver in both music, in stage presence and setting. I would go and see these again and again knowing that each time I would take something completely different away from it.
This is beyond any gig I have ever been to, it genuinely was exceptional and I would urge anyone to go and have this dramatic experience imprinted on their soul.
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