Raising goose bumps
Dark Dark Dark - Live At Dalston Roof Park, London

If Dark Dark Dark were an animal they’d be a mythical creature, like a chimera, or something in which various animals combined to make a fantastic beast. On stage tonight, at varying times, are no less than an accordion, clarinet, piano, bass, percussion and electric banjo. DDD look like a group of classical music graduates who have decided to have a go at this pop business, with extraordinary results. Out of the weird and wonderful combination of instruments comes avant-garde, theatrical folk/pop with circus and music hall influences. Most importantly, it works.

Wrapped up against the decidedly unbalmy August weather battering Dalston Roof Park, the band play a set largely taken from forthcoming album, ‘Who Needs Who’, a title made more poignant by the fact that vocalist Nona Marie Invie and former-boyfriend and founder member, Marshall LaCount, finished a serious relationship last year. The material is understandably reflective, sometimes heart-rending, even bleak but not depressing; introspective but not self-absorbed.

Many of the band’s contrasting influences come together in ‘Meet in the Dark’, which has a classical piano accompaniment and interludes, over which Invie sings “I’m humming so low you can’t hear me now.” It’s difficult not to draw comparisons with Regina Spektor – they share the same vocal quirks, slight accent and hoarseness that gives way to a surprising vocal dexterity. There’s also more than a trace of Anja Plaschg in the darker, more brooding and ponderous tracks such as ‘Hear Me’, which tonight features the impressive sight of a man playing an accordion and trumpet at the same time.

Meanwhile, ‘Without You’ begins with an accordion and descending bass line that sounds like something out of an old French noir film. The simple musical arrangement highlights a blues and jazz quality to Invie’s voice as she almost croons the heartfelt line “Without you I am a river my love.” A dramatic piano section in the middle section – again, reminiscent of Soap and Skin – builds to a powerful crescendo before segueing back into the almost nonchalant bass and accordion. In contrast, ‘The Last Time I Saw Joe’ is faster-paced, jaunty even, with a Beirut-like trumpet refrain, belying sentiments of loss and separation. ‘Tell Me’ is perhaps the most overt “break-up” song, a sense of longing for a happier time summed up by the line, “I want to live in the time when you cherished me/Oh to go back to the place when your hands moved over me/Tell me it’s there.” As the wind almost takes the inflatable covering off the roof, more than a few goose bumps are raised.

Words by Theresa Heath
Photo by Rachel Lipsitz

Click here for a photo gallery of the gig.

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