Royksopp / Sept. 20, 2005 / Toronto (Opera House)
The Norwegian electro-pop duo of Torbjorn Brundtland and Svein Berge, otherwise known as Royksopp, became quick stars thanks to its 2001 debut, "Melody A.M."The Norwegian electro-pop duo of Torbjorn Brundtland and Svein Berge, otherwise known as Royksopp, became quick stars thanks to its 2001 debut, "Melody A.M." Since then, the group has continued to tour when not working in the studio remixing artists like Annie and Beck.
On the heels of its sophomore set, "The Understanding," the group has managed to cull the best of both records into a rather strong live performance. Despite the tight confines of Toronto's Opera House, there were moments during the 15-song, 80-minute set that felt like you were in the middle of Ibiza, minus the pacifiers and glow sticks.
After a short but sweet set by Annie, who might be this decade's equivalent to Whigfield, Royksopp walked onstage as if they'd just stepped out of Kraftwerk's "The Man-Machine" album cover, each sporting red dress shirts and black ties. The group opened with the ambient-meets-Bhangra "Royksopp's Night Out" as Berge wailed away on his cymbal and drum pads while, to his left, Brundtland fiddled with various knobs and keyboards. Although the crowd eased their way into the set, Royksopp seemed spot on from the start, nodding in approval to each other during the galloping, Vocoder-riddled "Mekon Remix."
The mood and energy dampened somewhat during "Circuit Breaker," which eerily brought to mind the Pet Shop Boys. It was also the first time a female vocalist made her appearance, shining on the tune and also the ensuing "What Else Is There." The first true highlight came during the ethereal and aptly titled "A Higher Place," which was followed by the groove-heavy "College Jacket," with Berge summoning processed effects out of an electric guitar.
Perhaps the biggest strength of Royksopp's live show is how much synergy is displayed between the two members. Often with their backs to each other as they performed on their own keyboards and sonic gadgets, the group sounded like a well-oiled machine during "Eple" and the Depeche Mode-like framework of "Remind Me," the latter seeing Berge working double if not triple-time on the drum pads.
But for all this energy and excitement, the show temporarily hit a wall during "Follow My Ruin." The song's cheesy keyboards and aura of faux disco resulted in the crowd staying quite stationary. It was also disappointing given that neither "49 Percent" nor "So Easy" were performed either.
Nonetheless, Royksopp concluded with a homestretch that conjured a definite party atmosphere, beginning with the initial beats of the heady "Poor Leno." A fan jumped onstage to dance during the encore's "Nok E Nok," and while he was carried off, Berge and Brundtland smiled at each other, knowing they had just placed the exclamation point on a fine show.
Here is Royksopp's set list:
"Royksopp's Night Out"
"What Else Is There"
"A Higher Place"
"Follow My Ruin"
"Only This Moment"
"Nok E Nok"