manchester music, Monday, 11th October 2004
20/12/2004 :: Chris Horkan
AS the first city to truly "get them", Norwegian duo Kings of Convenience felt they had something to give back to the people of Manchester.
In the airy surroundings of the Royal Northern College of Music, and despite some minor struggles, they went some way to repaying their self-confessed debt tonight.
After many were forced to watch California's Call & Response on a tiny television screen because drinking rules were anything but convenient, the crowd enthusiastically welcomed back their acoustic champions.
The headliners' 90-minute set, too, was plagued with nuisances - the audience were jostling pantomime-like for the best position in the stalls and a 4 Hz frequency difference between guitars and piano meant lengthy tune-ups.
To confound the problems Erik Glambek Bøe's water was missing and Erlend Øye forgot his plectrum. This may sound like pickiness but the fragility of Kings of Convenience dictates that everything has to be just right.
The duo's songs, however, were unquestionably good as always with tracks from both their studio albums receiving near show-ending rapture.
Early on, Cayman Islands ("a song about bicycling") and I Don't Know What I Can Save You From struck home with the audience.
Later, A Girl From Back Then featured an uneasy piano break from Øye, who briefly walked off in a "strange mood", before the excellent The Build Up reunited the pair with a warm hug.
The performance was back in full swing by the time I'd Rather Dance With You allowed the ruffled-haired Øye to show off his sleek dance moves, backed by members of Call & Response.
And though Erik admitted during the encore "to be honest, we've been crap tonight" Little Kids at least ensured the ending would be a happy one.
On a difficult night in Manchester, the boys from Bergen still proved themselves to be acoustic kings.