Kaleo at the Forum
Even if you don’t know them by name, you’ve probably heard one of their tracks. After all, Kaleo’s songs have successfully made their way into practically every US hit TV show, from Orange Is the New Black, Suits and Empire, to Grey’s Anatomy and Vinyl.
Childhood friends from Iceland, Kaleo (a Hawaiian word meaning “the sound”) blend a distinct mix of folk, blues, rock and country to create a range of emotional tracks interspersed with louder, upbeat songs.
As live performances go, the band was, in a word, flawless. It’s a common issue with rock and four-instrument lineups to have problems with muddy sound, imperceptible vocals or poor balancing: Kaleo suffered from none of this. Right from the opening, I Can’t Go on Without You, guitar notes rang out clearly against frontman JJ Julius Son’s sublime singing. His sheer range that sees him switching effortlessly between head voice and a raspy soul tone that has both power and clarity, is a testament to his talent as a singer.
On lead guitar, Rubin Pollock riffs and licks punctuate the stunning vocals with intense bursts of energy, while bassist Daniel Kristjansson gets the crowd clapping and jumping for their rockier songs: No Good, Hot Blood and Glass House. If anything it was David Antonsson on the drums that felt relegated to the backdrop.
Way Down We Go, their most popular hit to date, recently featured in the trailer for Logan, received two plays, made its appearance towards the end of the set and managed to sound even smoother than the album version.
Frontman Julius Son is perhaps more reserved than most. He doesn’t jump around stage like a maniac, but he does engage the crowd. And while his voice is the real draw, combining that with his suave demeanour gives him a strong stage presence, particularly during Save Yourself and Rock ‘n’ Roller – the final piece.
Moving from playing at the Dingwalls to headlining the Forum in just a few months shows how quickly the band is growing: their next step is most definitely not one to be missed.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
For further information about Kaleo and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Way Down We Go here: