Trentemøller Venue, Vancouver BC, November 23

Trentemøller Venue, Vancouver BC, November 23
Photo: Daniel Young
Anders Trentemøller has always resisted clear-cut classification when it comes to genre. The roots of his career were anchored by a series of electronic EPs followed by a highly acclaimed debut album that balanced dramatic symphonic compositions with minimalist techno and electronica influences. His latest album, Lost, saw the return of his focus to songwriting after the cinematic grandeur of The Great Wide Yonder of 2010. If there is a common theme in these metamorphoses, it is that Trentemøller has been distancing himself from the role of an electronic music producer, while embracing his status of quasi-rock stardom. The turn towards post-rock and new wave influences in last night's (November 23) performance at Venue maintained this trend with theatrical grandiosity.

The opening of the show served as a showcase of the range of sound Trentemøller's five-piece live band are capable of. A lone xylophone traced the melody of the band's melancholic hit "Miss You" before being swallowed by a wall of dramatic strings, which in turn were taken up a notch with the outburst of a synth-led broken beat. In less than three minutes, the band travelled through a variety of styles, settling into a noise breakdown before unleashing the pulsating bass line of the single "Gravity," from their latest record.

Despite their reinvented approach, the band revisited a fair amount of the songs from their earlier albums, especially focusing on content from their breakout debut, The Last Resort. Whereas the original compositions were characterized by minimal synthesizer instrumentation and a subtle mastery of production techniques, the renditions played on this tour featured completely reimagined versions of this material.

Chorus-drenched guitars playing lead melodies siphoned nostalgia from the bygone new wave era. The theme was furthered when the band incorporated the riff from the Cure's "Lullaby" into the opening of "Moan." The song, which was originally released as an understated techno-driven ballad, was turned into a trek through the band's wide range of sounds while guitarist Anne Fisker lent it her dreamy yet stern vocals. The performance was in effect a medley, and seemed, to these ears, to incorporate the ominous theme from Twin Peaks into the string parts.

In his recorded material, Anders Trentemøller has a tendency to cram a million ideas where a few would be enough, and this definitely reflected in the live performance. While it may have been hard to keep track of the songs played or even recognize them from their more docile album versions, that was well beyond the point, as the show cohered more as a grandiose spectacle in which raw rock emotionality was being transported into otherworldly territories by electronic elements.

There's a chance some fans of Trentemøller's minimalist roots may have been somewhat disappointed by this bombastic delivery, but it didn't show. The heated engagement with which the Sunday crowd responded to the concert said very much the opposite.

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