In what may be the only connection between The White Stripes and the musicians in front of us tonight, both duos were and are able to make a racket totally disproportionate to their stage presence.
However, whereas the American twosome conjured up an unholy, primal surge of power, Sarah Neufeld and Stefan Scheider somehow produce music of great complexity and seeming disconnect from simply a violin, a drum kit and an electronic box it seems barely believable; shut your eyes at points and you’re listening to glitchy, Black Dog-type ethereal techno…from some wood, strings, skins and a couple of plugs.
That is, of course, to simplify (but not denigrate) the craft here tonight: this is deeply impressive stuff from two passionate musicians doing something from the left of the leftfield…and pulling it off, faultlessly.
The passion is definitely there from the charismatic leading lady, both in performance and the mere fact she is here: taking time out from her day job in Arcade Fire to perform in this tiny and intimate space shows some kind of commitment.
The lucky crowd are pretty passionate also: we may be small in number but the, frankly fantastic, performance gets ever louder squawks of appreciation: the ‘accessible chopping’ – that is what the notes say…sophistication be damned – of the opener ‘From Our Animal’ through to the later, pizzicato on ‘The Glow’ being utterly entrancing.
Those plucked, reverb-happy strings, in particular, are eerily beautiful: she stalks around the stage noirishly whilst pitter-patter percussion ticks things along: it’s not unlike some of Bjork’s output – without the Icelandic wailing on top, obviously.
Not that the percussion is always so sotto voce: Schneider, at times, batters into a full on 4/4 kick drum and the effect is not unlike hearing the thud of a distant rave, both ominous and inviting, whilst Neufeld teases out what, through the pedals and all, becomes a full string section on top.
We even get the occasional vocal but it’s largely as an ethereal adjunct; another instrument rather than a lyric, which seems entirely fitting.
Troubling times both abroad and here; Neufeld and Schneider, just for a moment, wash that away, confine them to the back of the mind.
A rather marvellous, beautiful and thrillingly impressive evening.
Words: Vosne Malconsorts
Photos: Dan Shay