Blitzen Trapper at The Borderline

18th May 2010 – 5.12 pm

The Borderline is smaller than I remember it to be. I imagine it has been remodelled, or maybe my failing memory really is because I haven't been here for ten years, but the venue looks different. I am impressed that all the members of Blitzen Trapper are able to fit on the stage with all of their instruments and still be able to jump around to their impassioned folk rock, more so when I realise half-way through the set that there is a sixth member I can't see. I thought I had a clear view of the stage, the column slightly obstructing my view of the bassist, but a guitar solo apparently coming from nowhere makes me squeeze my view around to see the headstock of a third guitar. Actually, it is the second phantom guitar solo that makes me realise I am missing a member of the band, the first just makes me scratch my head in confusion.

Blitzen Trapper warm up the audience with a couple of tracks from album Furr, but the band are here to promote forthcoming album Destroyer of the Void. There are plenty of new songs to hear and Blitzen Trapper say that it is fun to play them. The new material sounds good, but it is difficult to fully appreciate them on a first hearing. For me, the joy in music comes from repeated plays that allow predictive and nuanced listening. I personally prefer to have listened to the recorded material before seeing a band perform songs live, but I know I also enjoy getting a new album to hear songs I previously heard live, the new yet familiar music evoking memories of the gig.

There is plenty to enjoy in tonight's gig. I have no idea what any of the new tracks are, and apparently I missed the release of the Black River Killer EP, perhaps thinking it was only a single instead of a fuller release, but it all sounds good. And Lady on the Water and Sleepy Time in the Western World are performed from Furr. The title track of that album is also played, which gets a warm reception and some audience participation.

The band are not shy with the audience either. When Marty announces that there is some confusion as they cannot read the writing on the set list, he has to quell the crowd. 'We weren't opening up the floor to suggestions', he tells us, although that doesn't stop more from coming. They even get asked to play Neil Young's On the Beach, which the band seems to think they have been asked to do before, perhaps even the last time they came to London. Blitzen Trapper actually improvise their way through the start of the song before saying that one day they will actually play the entire album, and we'd better be there for it. We are then told 'Eric is going acoustic' and that as he changes 'we should banter'. Someone in the audience asks what happened to the drummer's beard, which is a 'good question. Brian, what happened to your beard?'

'Do you want the truth?'

'No, we're entertainers', replies Marty again, 'come up with an entertaining lie.' So Brian says that he was getting fed up with being treated like a tramp, although there were positive aspects to that too. He is happy that someone noticed, at least. The acoustic number is played before the whole band are brought back. A couple of older songs are played, title track of third album Wild Mountain Nation being a joy to hear again, but it is the rambunctious mayhem of Devil's A-Go-Go that is my highlight, fittingly played as the final song of the encore. The seemingly amelodic and stilted track can only be fully appreciated when seeing it performed, the band jumping around and impressively keeping in time with each other across the shifting rhythms. It is a brilliant end to another exciting Blitzen Trapper gig.

  1. One Response to “Blitzen Trapper at The Borderline”

  2. I would have enjoyed the gig more had I not been uncomfortably hiccuping all the way through it, though.

    By pjharvey on May 18, 2010

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed.