Live: KALEO // Roundhouse, London
The ‘Kaleo Express Tour’ rolled into London last Wednesday night at Camden’s famous Roundhouse, which saw the four-piece making up the band Kaleo bring their swaggering blues and folk-tinged rock & roll to a rather excitable crowd.
Opening with the steady, bluesy Broken Bones, frontman JJ Julius Son quickly has the audience in a trance, his epic, husky voice filling the 1,700-capacity venue and sending chills down spines. Prolonging this further with the next two tracks – the haunting I Can’t Go On Without You and the emotional, softer tune Save Yourself, which leaves the crowd stunned, Kaleo continue to impress so early on in the set.
The tension has been risen and the intensity of the night has been set, before being ramped up in an instant with the funk-infused Pour Sugar On Me which sees the crowd jumping and singing along – a quick shift from their previous entranced state. Following this is Hot Blood, a tune packed with clanging guitars and fast, heavy drums – it adds a classic rock & roll vibe to the bluesy set.
This theme is continued when the opening riff of No Good is played, to which the crowd responds to with deafening cheers – breaking into simultaneous claps at JJ’s command. Vor í Vaglaskógi, the band’s only song on the set performed in their native Icelandic language, glistens around the room.
A rocky, sultry cover of Nancy Sinatra’s Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) goes down a storm, followed by Texas and best known 2015 single Way Down We Go.
The band returns for a much-anticipated encore with heavy, fast-paced number Rock ‘n’ Roller, which sees the crowd erupt into excited dancing and singing. Despite there clearly being a lot of already devoted fans in the audience, it is clear that Kaleo have made a huge impression to anyone not already clued up on the Icelandic foursome.
The band hails from Mosfellsbær in Iceland, but now resides in the US, and America’s influence on the music is incredibly apparent. Heavy basslines, echoing guitars and the regular use of harmonicas blend beautifully together to create the signature Kaleo sound. With Julius Son clad in a heavily-fringed black jacket and native-American style feathers tied to his mic stand, it feels as if you’ve been transported to Southwest America circa 1950.
Photos: Katie Willoughby