After releasing the Fever Ray album ‘Plunge’ in 2017, Karin Dreijer wanted to work with as many women and non-binary people as possible on the subsequent live tour, occupying the male-dominated performance space in an already male-dominated music industry.
They worked with six collaborators on the production and design of a live show, and – as ‘Plunge’ focused on themes of gender, age, sexuality and motherhood – it was fitting that five of six collaborators were over 40 years old, and four had children. The resulting shows were an equally fitting celebration of inclusion where women, and non-binary people, were in a safe space to express themselves and to get lost in the music. And, given the goose bump-inducing reaction to Dreijer’s entrance, they are.
Fever Ray’s latest release, ‘Live At The Troxy’, attempts to capture that feeling on record. Often live albums don’t quite work, they miss something fundamental about the performance – usually the experience of witnessing it live – and recordings can feel slightly flat and muddy. There are of course good live albums: Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, 65daysofstatic, Neil Young and Arrested Development have all released records that really translate the essence of performance in a solely audio format.
One thing that’s striking about this particular live album is just how many amazing songs Dreijer, and Fever Ray, have. It’s the definition of a greatest hit set that doesn’t let up from the incendiary ‘An Itch’ to exhilarating ‘Mama’s Hand’. By the time ‘This Country’ kicks in, you’re giddy with what you’ve just heard. ‘This Country’ legitimately goes off, the crowd rallying behind Dreijer and her wonky synths and politically charged lyrics about abortions, nuclear power and conformity. As the hits and deep cuts build and build, you get swept away in the euphoric ride.
While ‘Live at the Troxy’ does a good job of trying to capture and recontextualise the Fever Ray live experience, it doesn’t quite pull it off. This is down to trying to capture a 3D, 360 degree experience in mere audio: you get an idea of how good the gig was, but it doesn’t quite do it justice without visuals. However, Dreijer and her vocals – their clarity, and her charisma – are still the stars of the show.
Words: Nick Roseblade
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