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Sunday, 30 September 2012 12:31

Concert review: The Raveonettes hold capacity crowd spellbound at the Firebird, Friday, September 28

The Raveonettes at the Firebird The Raveonettes at the Firebird Nate Burrell
Written by Annah Bender
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If the Raveonettes were an insect, they would be a spindly black widow spider in a cloudy forest.

You would be so mesmerized by the spider's delicately spun web that you would not notice as it wound around and around you, wrapping your body in layers of sticky mesh until, dazed as if waking from a strange dream, you would find yourself ensnared and about to be consumed whole.

Through a haze of machine-generated fog so thick you could choke on it, the eerie duo (plus a touring drummer) piled on the dark, the inky-black and the gloom, punctuated at times by jangly, Cramps-esque rockabilly riffs and drum line beats. On Friday night the Firebird was coated in distortion, and the two touring drummers squared off to deliver a thick wall of sound that you could almost swallow.

The band's set was heavy on material from its two most recent records, "Observator" and the aptly-titled "Raven in the Grave" -- two releases that have chronicled guitarist Sune Rose Wagner's life with a major depressive disorder. While the Raveonettes have always made music fit for a teen vampire soap opera, the mood and lyrical content of most of their new material is especially riddled with angst.

"Recharge and Revolt," the set opener, saw the duo fully embracing the inner Cure that all self-respecting bands who dress mostly in black surely possess. "I don't wanna be young and cold," Wagner how to write an essay sang plaintively during the (also) aptly-titled "Young and Cold." There was one "from the vaults" as Sharin Foo introduced it: "Attack of the Ghost Riders," which generated near hysteria.

However, much of the night felt like a comedown, although the amplifiers were none the worse for wear -- less of a gentle descent and more like a blistering hangover, with enough strobe lights to induce a seizure.

"Dead Sound" proved an exception, a love song for people wearing thick eyeliner, as was the be-boppy "Aly, Walk with Me" (delivered during the encore). The band kept banter to a minimum, one or two polite "thank you"s and the occasional side consultation in Danish. "Secret Danish language," Foo explained. (Foo is Christina Aguilera's counterpart on Denmark's version of the TV show "The Voice," by the way, proving once again that Denmark's version of everything is way cooler than ours.)

An inter-generational crowd, some there to see opening act Melody's Echo Chamber and others old enough to have purchased a Jesus and Mary Chain record when records didn't come with an MP3 download, chattered and swilled during the set, but were completely mesmerized by "Dead Sound" and exultant over "Love in a Trashcan."

For continuing to evolve through a fog of personal difficulties and after basically establishing the imitable fuzzed-out girl group sonic zeitgeist of recent years, the Raveonettes get five pentagram-shaped stars.

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