Brighton and Hove News’ ‘Crazy Energy Night’ with Pom Poko
POM POKO + SHTËPI – THE BOILER ROOM, GUILDFORD 1.2.22
pompoko formed in 2017 and are a very different proposition to your normal band, and are the opposite of the Japanese anime film that inspired their name. The quartet consists of Ragnhild Fangel, Martin Tonne, Jonas Krøvel and Ola Djupvik and they offer the listener pure Norwegian punky sweetness, combined with a punk attitude with a corny knowledge of pop history.
I had seen Pom Poko three times, and I thought it was high time to see them again. This time around, the Norwegian quartet came to the UK to perform six concerts as part of the ‘Freelance Sites Week‘. Last night they opened the tour in Cardiff and tonight they had stumbled upon 13 Stoke Fields, Guildford, GU1 4LS to delight punters at The boiler roombefore leaving for Norwich, Bedford, Margate and Portsmouth.
The premieres tonight are Shtepi which is a local band made up of students from the University of Surrey, who stepped in to replace the previously booked support band who were unable to play after one of them tested positive for Covid.
Shtëpi displays independent influences with lots of light and shadow, but there’s more to it. It becomes clear that this is no ordinary band when the keyboard player starts shouting into an old 1970s Trimphone at the mic. The singer then sings in the same instrument. Everything that passes through is as garbled as I don’t know what, probably because the phone’s mouthpiece mic won’t be of high quality – to say the least! That doesn’t take anything away from the music. On the contrary, it gives it a rather anarchic side. A theramine is also used. It’s art rock with post-punk and psych elements. Shtëpi is an interesting group that is definitely worth a visit.
If the Shtëpi are difficult to classify, this is also true for pompoko. They clearly have influences that one wouldn’t necessarily expect to sit comfortably together, but the band makes them co-exist. While the first album ‘Birthday’ was deliberately angular and experimental, current album ‘Cheater’ is more accessible. This is amply demonstrated by the opening track ‘My application’, which immediately draws the crowd. I’m in front against the barrier, and after an hour or two of bodies crashing into me, I feel like I’ve played rugby!!! It’s not something I’ve seen at a Pom Poko gig before, and it’s hopefully an indicator that audiences are now much more familiar with their music.
One thing about Pom Poko that stands out a mile away is their sense of music. The three instrumentalists are virtuosos. The guitar playing on the title track of ‘Cheater’ is particularly impressive. Singer Ragnhild Fangel Jamtveit is also excellent. She’s dropped on a cowbell to “Follow the Lights”, and her voice is superb. She can’t help but smile as she dances during the instrumental sections. This band really loves what they do.
Tonight’s set is largely split between Pom Poko’s two albums, with six songs from ‘Birthday’ and seven of ‘Cheater’. In addition, there is also a cover of ‘Sonatina’ by Johann Sebastian Bach. Their layout of this piece gives it a distinctive 1960s feel. There’s also a new song, ‘Time’, which is apparently intended for an EP. It has a wonderful cascading guitar intro.
Bring closer “If you want me to stay” has psychedelic “panic” sections in the middle of the song and again at the end. In many ways, this sums up the character of the group. Despite all their identifiable influences – indie, post-punk, psych, jazz, classical, it always feels like their music could take off in a completely unexpected new direction at any moment. May they remain unpredictable for a long time.
The Pom Poko are:
Ragnhild Fangel – lead vocals
Martin Tonne – guitar
Jonas Krøvel – bass
Ola Djupvik – drums
Pom Poko setlist:
‘Like a woman’
“Follow the Lights”
‘Sonatina’ (covered by Johann Sebastian Bach)
“Crazy Energy Night”
“Andy Goes to School”
“If you want me to stay 2”
For more information on Pom Poko, visit www.pompoko.no