Sunday, 21 October 2012

Adem shows corduroy brigade how to rock quietly in comeback gig

Review: Adem + Geese, King's Place, 19/10/12

The sight of Adem Ilhan's cheery smile beaming out from behind the microphone is one of the most endearing experiences a music nerd could hope for. His blend of lilting nu-folk, carefully constructed metaphors and heartbreaking tunes has been sorely missed in the four years since his last release under his own moniker, 2008's acoustic covers record Takes. 

He has been no slouch in the intervening years. He's worked with tonight's festival curators and Scottish folksters Lau, scored the music for In the Loop, Armando Iannucci's big screen version of acerbic political comedy The Thick of It and produced a number of artists including Beth Jeans Houghton. He has ditched his Homefires festival for now, telling us after the gig he found that he wasn't able to find new talent that didn't feel derivative. 
But the former Fridge bassist is arguably more talented than any of the partners he's collaborated with. His 2004 debut Homesongs on Domino Records showed the multi-instrumentalist's ability to create innovative pastoral pop songs which allowed his ever-wistful tones to come through in a quiet manner while 2006 follow-up Love and Other Planets featured some delicate nuggets which ensured the record did indeed feel stratospheric. 
"I've been away for a while…" Adem explains to the enraptured audience at King's Place, The Guardian's large central London offices which house concert venues, bars and even a computer or two on which to bash out witticisms and interviews with Alain de Botton. 

Doubtless coaxed back on to the centre stage by Lau who organised the week long Welcome to Lau-Land festival, Adem is surprisingly nervous and unlike the usual bounding figure who has popped up from beneath his home-painted organ at previous gigs. Backed by support act and long-term friends Geese - a trio of two violinists and a drummer who fail to offer much imagination in their slightly pretentious opening set - Adem admits to having only rehearsed a handful of times prior to the appearance. 

His set is pleasingly full of familiar favourites including a wondrous outings for Love and Other Planets and an achingly stark solo version of Spirals. There's plenty of material from Homesongs but those, including yours truly, hoping for a new studio album, may have to wait a while longer as there were few new tunes. However, perhaps the most remarkable moment of the evening came with new song, Snow in April. A carefully weaved combination of a collection of similes and low tempo folk made this a promising sign of things to come. Halfway through, Adem briefly forgets the words, smiles and then apologises at the end of the song, making you wonder whether there's a more genuinely pleasant British frontman in existence. 

Predictably, Lau take to the stage for an encore and advance with Adem into the audience for jubilant versions of Everything You Need and There Will Always Be with Lau's accordions and energy adding to a feeling Adem has made an understated yet magical comeback. If Adem is to record and tour extensively under his own name again there will be a cluster of very happy music fans waiting with arms open across the world. Let's keep our fingers crossed. 

Video: Adem and Lau: Everything You Need

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