Live: M83 + Porcelain Raft at Berns, Stockholm 2012.02.26
words by Johan Alm / photos by Victor Lundmark (from 520, The Line of Best and Popaganda)
Porcelain Raft released my favourite record of the admittedly young 2012 in January, with Strange Weekend via Secretly Canadian, and M83’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming was one of last year’s most ambitious records, even if the end result was a bit uneven. Obviously the double-bill of M83 and Porcelain Raft in one night was definitely one of the most exciting things in awhile, and despite M83’s undeniable quality Porcelain Raft was my main focus for the evening.
The gig took place at Berns here in Stockholm, a beautiful venue that I’d never actually been to – or at least not the large concert room; I saw Alejandro Escovedo in a small room in the basement last year. The majority of the audience had already arrived by the time Porcelain Raft, aka Mauro Remiddi, took the stage for his opening set at nine o’clock but it wasn’t nearly as packed as it’d become later, for M83’s set.
For some reason I had expected Porcelain Raft to use a live band, but Remiddi took the stage alone and worked it very well. The set was around half an hour long, and mostly focused on the material from Strange Weekend (plus new b-side “Something In Between”) which was definitely to my taste. The main strength of the set was naturally the high quality of the songs as well as how well Remiddi translated them to a live setting, with especially the vocals being impressive.
Remiddi performed large parts of the set with a guitar, and as these were the ones that worked the best live it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to think that the addition of a live backing band would’ve added an extra dimension to the gig. That’s not to say it didn't work well as it did, it’s not often that a relatively unknown opening act gets such a good response from an audience – especially not when it’s a one-man band.
M83 took the stage after a half-hour break and from the beginning it was obvious that this wasn’t going to be a stripped-down set like Porcelain Raft’s. Although no one would have expected that from M83 anyway. The, um, creature from the “Midnight City” single cover were the first to arrive onstage, and after awhile the band followed and naturally opened with “Intro”, the opening track of Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. The set naturally focused heavily on material from Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, and as I’m painfully unfamiliar with most of M83’s earlier work that worked out just fine for me.
M83 turned out to be an excellent live band, and from the beginning it was clear that they’re aiming for far bigger stages with the entire live production deriving more from classic stadium rock than indie electronics. Musically the songs took on a more rock-inspired shape live as well, but the band made it work very well, and anyone listening to Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming can hardly miss the “big” aspirations. Since it’s become a must-play at each and every pre-party for the past half-year or so “Midnight City” was naturally a high light, and the whole show made clear that M83 truly belong at bigger stages – and they’re certainly heading in that direction.
Thanks to Victor Lundmark from 520 for taking the pictures, and if you understand Swedish you can read his thoughts on the M83 set here.