Balthazar at Oslo
A sweltering Hackney night welcomed Belgian band Balthazar to the stage at Oslo as part of their European tour. This lively venue right by Hackney Central station is spot on for these types of gigs, building an expectant, close crowd.
Balthazar open with the first track, Decency, from their new album, Thin Walls. The violin riff is so ominous it places you in the narrative of a thriller movie. Don’t let this paint a picture of morbidity; their following track is so happy and upbeat you can see it playing over a summer montage. Their energy is frantic, and the second song of the evening grows and grows to a crescendo of sound. Ripping through with a mind-snarling refrain, it’s the telepathic sound of an act who’ve clearly played together for a long time.
When violinist Patricia Vanneste walks on the stage at the start of gig, it’s with a humble smile, recognising delight in the waiting audience. Once she cradles that violin, there’s a fierce change; the sound she produces is only comparable to a film soundtrack. It certainly won’t be heard on any other records out right now.
Lyrically, Balthazar have a dark undertone. “How can true love ever be civilised?” is a damning indictment on how porous relationships have become in modern times. Drummer Michiel Balcaen supports the lyrics with a beat that, although you know it has shades of pain in each hit, keeps you light on your feet. New single Bunker is greeted with the biggest cheers out of all their songs, and is certainly their stand-out track. Jinte Deprez’s vocals lay the lyrics out bare, even more so than with other songs played tonight. Deprez is soft in tone but luckily he doesn’t get drowned out by the power of the band’s music.
Unfortunately, this was Balthazar’s last UK date for the foreseeable future. When they come back, be sure to snap up tickets quickly – once this band is discovered by the wider world, those tickets are going to sell out fast.
Photos: Erol Birsen
For further information about Balthazar and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Bunker here: