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Tonight at the Jazz Cafe is an exclusive UK date for Wisdom of Crowds, the coalition between The Pineapple Thief mainman Bruce Soord and Katatonia vocalist Jonas Renkse. Support comes from Norwegian singer song-writer Petter Carlsen who has supported English atmospheric rockers Anathema and comes highly recommended from them.
Petter Carlsen takes the stage alone quietly, humbling greeting the audience with a simple yet friendly "Hello!" The crowd are equally amicable to the musician and he launches into a folky guitar-based number with a second guitar on backing tapes. The music is emotively potent, addressing a range of moods and headspaces, and his voice smooth and clear. The room falls entirely silent as he plays each song tenderly and then a raucous applause fills the air when the song completes. With two albums and an EP under his name, Carlsen's path may just be beginning. He airs out a song from a forth-coming release that is received with high appraisal from the crowd.
On stage, he comes across as a very likeable character, unafraid to use his sense of humour. When the backing track continues longer than it should towards the end of one song, Carlsen abruptly turns it off, remarking on his poor "fade out," causing the audience to laugh as one. Leaving the stage and thanking the audience, Carlsen receives a strong ovation and positive comments are murmured among the crowd.
As each band member takes the stage one by one, the audience applaud Wisdom of Crowds for the show they are about to deliver. Opening with 'Pleasure', the band launch into velvety-smooth guitar work with Jonas Renkse's unmistakeable singing seeping into the audience's collective ears. The spacious rock music contains thoughtful solos, keyboards that provide atmosphere and electronic additions and progressive drum work. Naturally, the music is highly emotionally potent with a tinge of the foreboding. The music is very clinical and works well live, although the guitar would be helped significantly if it was louder.
With just one album to their name, Wisdom of Crowds have done very well to pack out the Jazz Cafe on a Sunday night. The audience is very attentive of the performance, applauding appropriately and many singing along to the songs. Every song off the album is performed, including the hidden instrumental track 'Your God'. 'Wisdom of Crowds', 'Frozen North' and 'The Light' are some of the highlights of the setlist that are performed beautifully. Although the music is devoid of any heaviness, Renkse shows his metal roots by softly headbanging and guitarist Bruce Swood swings his guitar around wildly, maintaining all eyes are fixed on them.
Closing song 'Centre of Gravity' rounds off the performance with Renkse apologising that the set cannot be longer seeing as the band do not have enough material. Vacating the stage, Wisdom of Crowds receive a hearty applause with a vast portion of the audience waiting for a potential encore that does not arrive. This is the project's second live performance in London, having played earlier in the year at the Garage. However, this more intimate setting benefits the personal tone of their music brilliantly and may be the last time they play such a cosy venue in the capital. Either way, there is certainly the demand for Wisdom of Crowds to play for a third occasion.