For most attending, myself included, tonight provided closure for those who planned to see Nils in the Royal Concert Hall in March last year, before a snowstorm shut down transport services across Scotland, forcing the gig to be cancelled at the last minute.
Nils Frahm took to the stage with little fanfare, hopping out and going straight into the first two tracks from his new album. The booming vocal melodies of ‘The Whole Universe Wants to be Touched’ were replaced with a tiny wooden piano, barely a foot long which sounded beautiful but made it sound even more ominous than the album recording. From there Nils transitioned from an improvisation into ‘Sunson’ a nine-minute slow-burner which builds its long droning intro into a thumping techno beat. This song is one of his newest songs, but it is definitely a fan favourite.
Bouncing in between his playground of pianos, machines and synthesizers, the artist left the room totally transcendent as he effortlessly fused beautiful piano instrumentals with heavy synth-laden electronica. The room sat visibly in awe, as he whisked through songs from his catalogue. ‘My Friend the Forest’ displayed the sheer beauty of Frahm playing solo piano, and signature songs like ‘Hammers’ expertly displayed the technical ability of his playing.
Playing for over two hours, he gave an absolutely incredible performance. Chatting to the audience in between, he apologised for the cancellation of his last gig and joked, rightfully so, that people in the UK should learn to drive in snow. Frahm closed with an encore set of a number of his most well-known songs, most notable ‘Says’. Another slow building song, it builds and builds into a euphoric climax which was an absolutely fantastic end to the show.
Before the show started, a man beside described the mammoth set up on the stage as ‘hilariously antiquated’. While it is true, most of Nils’ music could be programmed and performed with one piano and a few samplers, it is the collection of vintage synthesizers and old pianos that makes Nils Frahm the artist he is. By embracing the difficulties and the age of the equipment, he can use them to his advantage, creating music in a way no one else could. Live iterations of recordings never sound the same twice, each one being forced into new directions giving the audience a truly unique performance. This gig was a long time coming for Glasgow, but it was most certainly worth the wait.