By: Dylan Schink
Photos: Magda Wrzeszcz |
Anna von Hausswolff | website | facebook | bandcamp |
Islington Assembly Hall, London | October 13, 2016
Those unfamiliar with Anna von Hausswolff would be forgiven for getting the wrong impression when she comes on stage. Dwarfed by her bandmates and the enormous Nord C2 organ she stands behind, one might expect a soft, singer-songwriter-y voice from someone of Anna’s stature, however, the moment she opens her mouth she utterly shatters this illusion, forcing out some of the most powerful vocals you’ll ever hear. (Photographer Magda Wrzeszcz, who was unfamiliar with Anna von Hausswolff prior said she nearly shat herself when Anna started singing). Hausswolff makes Florence Welch sound like a mouse, but while a lesser vocalist might lose control and sacrifice nuance with this much force, Anna maintains the discipline and control of a coloratura, yet her delivery sounds and feels incredibly organic and natural.
This performance consisted entirely of new material, which seems to have taken off from the darker, more droning sections of The Miraculous. The instrumental portions are heavier and longer, the organ melodies are less obvious and Anna would occasionally just break into wordless, piercing shouts. I was concerned about her new 3 piece live setup, a substantial scale down from her old five piece setup, but they undeniably saturated the interior of Islington Assembly Hall with incredible, rich sounds. Even the use of sample-pad drums—something that I find can often drain the life from a performance—didn’t hold them back. There were softer moments, too, such as when Anna traded her organ for an acoustic guitar to give the audience a break from the enormous intensity of her set.
Anna von Hausswolff is a musician who you owe it to yourself to see. She’s got a fantastic presence on stage and her music demands to be heard. Islington Assembly Hall’s sound system did justice to the massive dynamics and frequency range Hausswolff and her band employ, including some lung-crushingly low frequencies that made me feel physically pushed away from the PA system. I’m enormously excited about her new album, which I’m told she hopes to have out some time in 2017, but if you have a chance to get a live preview, absolutely do it, the only thing you’ll regret is that the show wasn’t longer.