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Gigs of 2009 – Whitest Boy Alive, Scala, April 16

December 28, 2009

I brought a book to this gig. Well not to the gig specifically, but to read on the tube. The bouncers found it on the way in, and seemed delighted with what their search had produced.

“He’s got a book!” exclaimed one.
“You won’t read in there,” another gravely responded.
Didn’t know Dickens was so noteworthy.

He was right, although I hadn’t planned on doing so anyway. Maybe if the gig had got boring, but there was never any danger of that. Whitest Boy Alive started out as “an electronic dance music project,” something that is not always entirely obvious on record, but comes across very strongly live. Unlike lots of gigs, where the kids and the drunks crash about at the front, and everyone else stands statuesque, here almost everyone was dancing, actually proper dancing. And there’s something very special about a whole room of 800 people being really into something so uninhibitedly, being so carried away with the music that any classic London gig notions of hip aloofness seem completely irrelevant.

The band were incredibly tight, at times almost veering towards the realms of a jazz band with their jams, but never losing their groove, especially on tracks with particularly funky basslines, such as ‘Keep A Secret.’

Frontman Erlend Øye worked the crowd brilliantly, inciting mass sing-a-longs with energetic call and responses with the crowd. Originally known because of his work as half of quiet-merchants Kings Of Convenience, you can see why he formed Whitest Boy Alive; he seemed to be having brilliant fun. Not least when, during a fantastic cover of Robin S’ Show Me Love, he abandoned the stage, and ran round the crowd, dancing with everyone.

Like me, my friend had come to the gig with Great Expectations. He’s a massive Whitest Boy Alive fan, and knew how good they were live; his were of the anticipatory rather than the literary kind. Sadly however, he had not, like me, come with his ticket, having somehow lost it before this gig. He somehow managed to persuade them to let him in regardless, as in his joyous anticipation he’d taken a photo of the tickets beforehand, and this seemed to be good enough. His excitement was certainly justified.

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