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I'm typing this in a café named Roasters in Luleå, in the north of Sweden. The coffee's good (even if they don't seem to be familiar with the flat white), though the music, not so much. They seem to have a number of songs on shuffle, one of which is one of those saccharine torch-song duets they used to have in the soundtracks of big-budget Disney animations; you know the ones: piano chords, syrupy string orchestra, melismatic vocals with the requisite loop-the-loops to tick the “soulful” box, and the obligatory truck driver's gear change before the final choruses get belted out. It bespeaks a sort of romance preserved in formaldehyde, like a consumer-capitalist Lenin's Tomb of tacky sentiment plumped up with high-fructose corn syrup. But enough about the awful music.

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Tonight I see Loney Dear. I'm looking forward to it.
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And so, this journal (by now not so much august as septembral, if not late-autumnal) sputters, ever so briefly, back to life. Once again, it has to do with my being on the road.

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I saw Loney Dear play at Majornas Missionskyrka, a small (Swedish state Lutheran?) church in the Gothenburg neighbourhood of Majornas. It was great; well worth flying to Sweden for.

The gig started early; doors opened at around 7, and people filed in and took their seats on the pews. It was sold out, so the church was full; I managed to get a seat somewhere around the fifth row, which meant not quite enough of an angle to get any good photographs, though given Loney Dear's dislike of stage lighting, that point was somewhat moot anyway. At about twenty past, the musicians filed in; shortly afterward, a woman went on and made an announcement (in Swedish), and the music started; Emil (the frontman of Loney Dear) playing 12-string guitar through a battery of loop pedals and singing, with the orchestra accompanying him. The accompaniments started subtly, but became more complex and intricate, adding a cinematic swirl to the intimate psychodrama of Emil's songs; they worked really effectively.

The musicians played for about an hour, before taking a bow and walking off stage, to which the audience responded with the tightest, most synchronised pre-encore clapping I had ever heard at a gig; I wonder if it's a Swedish thing (perhaps the pervasive music education programmes they have here stamp out sloppy timekeeping?), a large number of musicians in the audience or both. Anyway, the musicians returned and played two more songs.

September 2015

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