Gig review: Milky Chance at Leeds University Stylus

Milky Chance. Picture: David Hodgson
Milky Chance. Picture: David Hodgson
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It could naturally be assumed that any nation holding David Hasslehoff in high musical esteem are unlikely to produce a substantial stable of quality musical output but, whilst the German town of Kassel is known for the contemporary arts, it has also spawned Milky Chance.

The trio comprises a lead singer, two guitars and a DJ/producer. A mix that produces a sound that is equal parts folk, reggae and dance. It’s an intriguing blend that has given rise to two albums, the debut Sadnecessary in 2013 and the album forming the backbone of this tour, Blossom.

Therein lies the first problem. The debut was innovative and captured imaginations. The follow up a pale imitation – and I do mean imitation – which didn’t build on any foundations that had been laid. Having seen the band on the Sadnecessary tour, this evening was a different proposition.

The first five tracks of the evening were taken from Blossom. Clouds provided a low key opening, Ego will always be a decent track and remains so live. The album title track was the first one to inspire the sold out crowd to greater things, spurred on by fervent drumming and a departure from the recorded version.

The biggest cheer of the set was, unsurprisingly perhaps, for the first Sadnecessary track Flashed Junk Mind. Played live every track of this album remains strong, although this version did peter out somewhat to a slight confused reggae conclusion.

Throughout the set, Milky Chance didn’t appear to have a particularly strong connection with the audience, even bringing one of them onstage to join them was done somewhat half-heartedly. One huge stroke of genius however was the use of Antonio Greger’s harmonica. This gave some of the Blossom tracks in particular a whole new level of funk and soul, microphone swinging around as Gerger gave his everything.

Time and time again the loudest cheers were for debut album tracks, with the entire Leeds Stylus demanding the bands biggest tracks Stolen Dance and Sweet Sun form the encore. Prior to this the band had fluffed the set closer and had to restart it, on one hand making the band attractively fallible, on the other frustrating as the remainder of the set had been relatively polished.

The Milky Chance future will make interesting viewing. The second half of the set drifted, primarily due to the lack of debut album tracks, for which the audience were baying. If at the end of this tour the band retire to a studio and produce an album the quality of which they are clearly capable then the next tour will be worth the ticket. A space that should be watched.

Prior to Milky Chance support Fil Bo Riva has been a similar musical proposition to the headliners, albeit whether due to the audio or not, largely indecipherable. For a support act the well-travelled, worldly wise half Italian made a strong sound and packed something of a Paulo Nutini style punch. Worth keeping an eye on.