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Concert Review by Nick Morgan
 
HUSKY RESCUE
Bush Hall, London, Thursday 8th September, 2005
by Nick Morgan
This is getting spooky. There we were in the faded splendour of the Edwardian Bush Hall (built, apparently, by Irish publisher William C Hurndall as a gift for his daughter – I hope she remembered to say “thanks Dad”) luckily seated at one of the few tables in front of the makeshift stage, sharing our space with a couple of West London types. As support band Hardkandy take the stage (a not unpleasing baggy-jeaned funk soul outfit with a great vocalist) the bloke to the left of The Photographer takes out his little black notebook and starts to write. Husky Rescue
Another reviewer! Not to be outdone out comes my little black number, and we spend much of the rest of the evening sparring with occasional bouts of frenzied scribbling (hands guarding our pages like paranoids in an examination hall), followed by long periods of contrived cool indifference to all around us. We both refuse to be drawn into any audience participation, and he, at least to my way of thinking, clapped somewhat too enthusiastically.
Like gunslingers at dawn we stared at each other through dead eyes, waiting to see who would blink first. Needless to say it was the kid, seen off by my Elvis ‘Jailhouse Rock’ shirt (a real collector’s item I have to say), the debris of beer bottles that I intimidated him with, and when we compared notes at the end, the fact that I’d managed to include ‘Ian Dury’, ‘John Malkovich’, ‘The Helsinki marathon’, ‘Anthony and the Johnsons’, ‘Jim White’, ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’, ‘Seal’ and ‘homemade Thai sausages’ into my jottings, compared to his ‘Coldplay’, ‘lemonade’ and ‘crisps’. A hands down victory for the mature man I’d say.
Anyway we’re really here to see Husky Rescue, the latest big thing to hit the music scene from Finland (oh yes, and no surprises, the night is sponsored by Nokia, part of their Raw Tour series for ‘the best breakthrough acts of 2005’). From Helsinki, Husky Rescue is a collective, a band, and just Husky himself, and the gig was advertised as a solo performance – “hypnotic one man band” said the Guardian. What we got was the excellent five piece outfit – Husky (aka bass player and studio multi-instrumentalist Marko Nyberg), singer Reeta-Leena Korhola, keyboards, guitar and computer man Ville Rippa, drummer Ansi Sopanen, and Fender and lap-steel guitar ace Miika Colliander. At least I think that’s who it was – no one was introduced on stage and Catskill Records didn’t reply to my request for the band line-up (or a set list) – so if it’s wrong I’m sorry guys, but you know who to blame.
Husky produce ‘cinematic music strongly influenced by the power of films and the hypnotic quality of photography’ says their web site, and the word ‘ambient’ seemed to be on everyone’s lips (they’d probably read that a great influence was David Lynch, and apparently Lars von Trier, who I personally have never forgiven for the uniquely depressing ‘Breaking the Waves’). Well I could be wrong, but what I was hearing were very pleasing, catchy and artfully constructed country influenced tunes, with a bit of ambient in the background (and the fact that the album version of ‘Mean Street’ seems to have a coda of two minutes of silence won’t persuade me otherwise).
To be sure, the single ‘New light of tomorrow’ could have come straight out of a Lynch film, but a lot of the rest of the short set wouldn’t have been out of place on a Jim White album – although there was perhaps less of Jim’s eccentric and black humour, and more bleak rain swept and sun-deprived Finnish landscapes (the band claim to produce “exquisite music to shield themselves from the bitter cold of Finland’s harsh artic winters” but somehow I don’t think they can quite escape it). Husky Rescue
Colliander’s guitar was responsible for the country feel – and I suppose the steel guitar did add a ‘hypnotic’ twist too. His Fender work was outstanding – here was a person who really knew what a Telecaster was for and how to play it.
But the eye catcher was vocalist Korhola. With blonde hair and the sort of glasses my mum used to wear in 1965, dressed in a knee length dress and white shawl, it wasn’t clear if she had just come from a drug crazed weekend at Woodstock or the school library. But her breathless soft vocals were quite captivating – if not sometimes (deliberately?) difficult to hear, and she whipped the Finnish boys in the crowd (have you ever heard Finnish heckling Serge?) into a frenzy as she Yippe-aye-ayed her way through the middle section of the wonderfully poppy ‘Summertime cowboy’, thigh slapping and all (curiously The Photographer said this was irritating). This was a strong counterpoint to Husky, who occasional smile apart, barely moved all night (but he did play an excellent bass), and Riipa, who seemed to be trying to outstare the two reviewers in the audience, much to our mutual discomfort.
Husky Rescue The set started with the curious ‘Good man’ (with an introductory taped monologue from hot Finnish DJ Jonathan Hutchings – well actually he’s a Welshman who’s lived there for years, and obviously – and understandably prefers Helsinki to Haverfordwest) and ended with the lullaby ‘Sleep tight tiger’. In between there was (amongst others) ‘Sweet little kitten’, new single ‘City lights’, ‘Rainbow flows’, ‘My world’ and especially for Serge, ‘Gasoline girl’, with the refrain “I’m dreaming of a girl on a motorbike”.
Which reminds me Serge, apparently Husky is a great motorbike fan too, and he drinks ‘White Russians’, but only made of organic milk. Cool or what?
Overall a very satisfactory evening, a thought backed up by a few plays of the album Country Falls, nicely packaged with sleeve graphics like a cross between some of the early (and impossible to find) Ronnie van Hilversum albums and the Beatle’s Yellow Submarine. Whether you’re in a log cabin in Finland, a flat in London, or a farmhouse in France, sit with a glass of your favourite dram with Country Falls playing, and let the Atlantic waves of Scotland’s Midnight Wine slowly break over you, and the surf gently pull you back, and then push you forward, and feel, as Husky promises, ‘a warm breeze to counter the chill of daily life’. That’s my way of saying ‘please buy their album’. Ok ? - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate) Husky Rescue



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