Harrys Gym Live @ Madame JoJo's Harrys Gym Myspace
Walking through the heart of Soho’s red light district is a slightly unusual route to a gig; gay porn, sex toys and presumably dodgy substances being passed surreptitiously between hands in alleys. Norway's newest prog-pop darlings Harrys Gym might have felt slightly out of place in the faux-opulent, almost burlesque setting of Madame JoJo’s, in the heart of the above shop-front debauchery, but they certainly didn’t show it.
In fact, their set kicked off with barely an introduction save for a brief announcement that their debut album (which is absolutely brilliant) had just come out in England. Whilst I’d never accuse them of actually thinking this themselves, I imagine that the assembled crowd knew just who they were already. So in following the theme of the show let’s stick to the essentials.
Harrys Gym are a foursome; vocalist/guitarist Anne Lise Frøkedal, synth/keyboard/bass players Erlend Ringseth, Ole Myrvold and drummer Bjarne Stensli. On record their sound is characterized by rich textures, rhythmic variations and quirky bridges. A facile comparison would be the fragile but compelling vocals of Scary Mansion crossed with the light prog rock stylings and Pink Floyd influences of Pure Reason Revolution. Live, and just as I was hoping, Harrys Gym ramped up the volume and enjoyed some surprisingly balls-to-the-wall rockouts. The unassuming brace of electric wizards also easily reaffirmed my belief that ramped up Moogs are pure, sonic sex; their judicious use of electronic beats complemented the organic drums cleverly. Front woman Anne Lise has a similar stage presence to Katie Harkin of Sky Larkin, or indeed Scary Mansion’s Leah Hayes; rock chic, infectious movements, passionate and keen to just get on with it. It is absolutely no disservice to say that Harrys Gym’s performance did justice but little more to the fidelity of their album. The best part of their performance was all of it; that's to say it was straight up, honest tightness and great music the whole way through. If this seems an uninspired write up then it's a great disservice to a band that have a firm grasp of nuances and complexity but ensconce it all in one simple truth: they're great live and you should seize any chance you have to see them.