Bernhoft at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Bernhoft brings an impressive collection of loop boards and effects pedals to the stage at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, skilfully displaying his talent with the sequencing equipment (as well as with the guitar, electric piano and wide-ranging vocals) at his biggest UK show to date.
The range of sound this one man produces has to be heard to be believed. From the off, with funky opener Wind You Up, a single guitar is manipulated to provide bassline, rhythm, and some impressive soloing, while a dizzying range of vocalisations (from soaring falsetto to percussive beat box) adds incredible depth and texture to the soulful set-list.
A fashionably attired sell-out crowd, including a large percentage of couples, reflects an act that provides the perfect soundtrack to a hipster date night. Somewhat subdued at first, the audience are awakened when Bernhoft tasks them with adding backing vocals to the seemingly infinite vocal loops of the call-and-response chorus of C’mon Talk, the song with which Bernhoft garnered attention in America via an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
In truth, for all the technical wizardry on display, the sound Bernhoft produces is not the most original – but he wears his influences on his sleeve with reverent love and care. Whether he’s invoking Alicia Keys (on Don’t Let Me Go, clearly inspired by If I Ain’t Got You) or Innervisions-era Stevie Wonder (on Rhodes piano ballad Streetlights) there is an authenticity – shot through with that impeccable voice – to all that he does, and it results in a compelling live show.
Ballads aside, perhaps the most obvious parallels can be drawn with the pop-soul of Justin Timberlake, with nods to Michael Jackson and Prince. The fact that Bernhoft does by himself what Justin Timberlake requires a full band and a complement of backing singers to do marks him as an artist to look out for, and certainly one to catch live.
Photos: Rob Brazier
For further information about Bernhoft and future events visit here.
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