by / January 26th, 2010 /

The Field – Tripod, Dublin

In 2007, Swedish producer Axel Willner, under his moniker The Field, produced one of the finest records of the past decade, From Here We Go Sublime. Through some electronic music alchemy Willner looped, stretched and melded samples, pushing them through a series of analogue cables emerging as lush electronic waves over minimal deep house beats creating an album that is as insular as it is crowd-pleasing; an album of entrancing cyclical ambient melodies. Somewhere along the way crowd-pleasing became important, somehow Willner must have thought that his knob-twiddling, guileless though it was, just wasn’t enough so he introduced some live instrumentation (bass, guitar and percussion) to his shows.

And thusly we have The Field, as presented to us in Dublin’s Tripod, and immediately something isn’t right. OK, these same live instruments were successfully mixed into second album Today and Tomorrow but they were treated like any other sample or sound, layered under a sea of swirling waves and rushes. The idea that these sounds are brought to the fore sets everything off balance, and that’s exactly what happened. An interesting sight to begin with, it proved difficult not to focus on the bass, making subtle build ups, or the cracking drums, snares and cymbals but by focusing on these means you don’t get absorbed into the melodies as you would do with the record.

There were some moments, the pulsating, throbbing rhythms of -The Heart Beats So Fast’ entranced the crowd for a while and the recognition of the Lionel Richie sampling, -A Paw In The Face’ caused some audible excitement on the floor; however on the peripheries it was all very incidental.

This was not a particularly poor show, the front few rows certainly didn’t think so, it was just slightly under-whelming and unmemorable. Also, the fact that The Field didn’t take to the stage until 2am meant that for many interest had waned, while many others were, well, pie-eyed.

The Field are/is better suited to a smaller venue, somewhere darker or more intimate; more importantly The Field should have a smaller stage presence, i.e. one man, Alex WIllner.

  • Conor McCaffrey

    Pity, his two albums are class, but this sounds like another one of those over-egged ‘live sets’. When drums, guitars etc get dragged on stage at a techno or house gig it sounds messy half the time or even like (eek!) Groove Armada. Give me a dude with a laptop and a drum machine any day…

  • jc

    1. His name is Axel.

    2. He’s been playing with live musicians for years, including an amazing gig in Crawdaddy a while back.

    3. They were a bit late coming on, but I was home by 2.30 and saw the full set so I’m guessing they were on by 1.30 at the latest.

    4. It was great.

  • 1. Apologies, an obvious typo.

    2. That Crawdaddy was superb indeed(about 12 months ago it was, I was there too) but it doesn’t match up to anytime I’ve seen him solo.

    3. Maybe the timing was wrong but it was late.

    4. Some of it was great. Glad you enjoyed it.

  • M

    I was with a group of four near the stage and, for what it’s worth to anyone, we were buzzing long after that concert – enjoyed ourselves. Sometimes at gigs perhaps similar to this you get the people close to the stage having a great time and the people on the ‘peripheries’ looking uncomfortable and I don’t understand what people do on the peripheries. There’s not really much to see for someone just standing at the back and watching. It’s not a theatre. I was too busy enjoying myself with the people around me to notice them anyway. Another thing I quite liked about the gig is that sometimes when you get an “artsy” artist who’s reputation is built mostly on internet reviews they are liable to have a rather male-dominated and nerdy fanbases that I am not especially keen to be stuck with. At Tripod that did not seem to be the case.

    As for the band, I liked what they added to the music and thought it worked well. It still felt massively “electronic” – it certainly was not an indie band. Just a little more soul than a man and his laptop, and I noticed Axel even had a guitar out himself at the end for the last track and the people around me were far from disappointed with what was coming out the speakers.

    I disagree basically. We were pretty “gone” so maybe that’s why we enjoyed it so much but we had good reason to be that weekend. I think there’s a divide as you point out between the “front rows” and the “peripheries”. I would encourage people, maybe not to physically fight their way to the very front – that would be sad, but basically just to put something in in order to get something out. At least have tried.

  • AstonishingSodApe

    What M said.