reviews- Inga Liljestrom and band- live

The Studio, Sydney Opera House with Ursula Rucker

“The best thing I have seen all year”

“Inga Liljestrom [is] a singer I had been trying to catch properly for quite a while. Caught her briefly singing for local electro/house act Ollo, then again only a fragment of her performance at Cockatoo Island. Opening with a solo, slow and mournfully wailing electric guitar against her unique voice, it shut the crowd up quick smart. Other people on stage played violin, cello, double bass, drum kit, trumpet, keys and other technologies, and some other brass instrument…..A mesmerizing performance, and something pretty special that possibly wouldn’t work in typical live music venues because she casts a spell that is powerfully enchanting yet I imagine could easily be broken by drunken yobs talking too loudly at the back. Playing at a space like the Studio with a projector screen behind the stage displaying some new gothic/film noir footage is just about the perfect way to experience this. The easiest/laziest comparison to make for the sound of Inga Liljestrom would be the sound of Lamb when they are at their most emotionally intense, lots of strings and not much electronics, a strong focus on the vocals. The music may build up to a giant wall of noise, but it’s never fast or with an electronic beat like a trip-hop/dance cross-over some may describe Lamb to be. Left the crowd gobsmackedInga Liljestrom stole the show.” (Tiny Man, Australia)

The Vanguard, Sydney, Australia.

“I have a confession to make.

I used Inga Liljestrom to further my romantic life. Perhaps it was her lush jazz-tinged voice that did it, as it swirled daintily amongst the chord of a double bass. Perhaps it was her mystique of her songs, flowing from her body with the aches and sighs of an impassioned woman. Whatever it was had me quickly running to the corridor between songs to send off a text message to an unsuspecting acquaintance, my mind helpless with longing and desire. This was not my first Inga Liljestrom concert – indeed, this was the third time I had seen her perform at The Vanguard in recent years – nor was it the first time her music had had this effect. Always been one of Australia’s great unappreciated musical acts, she is a hark back to the glory days of Portishead and other late-night modern greats, but possessing an earthy soul. There is a track from her… album Elk with the title Film Noir – a description the accurately sums up her musical essence. More an aural soundscape that a standard pop singer, she constructs songs of light and shadow; of mystery and revelation. ‘Tori Amos meets Emily the Strange‘ summed up my concert-going companion, aptly. Playing songs from her small but satisfying collection of albums, she showed her musical diversity: bringing out a ukulele one moment, and frequently – and somewhat inexplicably – singing into a large red telephone. While Liljestrom writes poetically and evocatively, it was ultimately her voice – especially in the intimate live setting of the Vanguard – that captivated. From a throaty growl, her jazz vibrato crawled upwards and ultimately shimmered into the air with a whisper. A whisp of black smoke perhaps, seen and then gone. While it would be fantastic to see Inga Liljestrom eventually gain the wider recognition she deserves, there is something magical about seeing her in these intimate settings. The Newtown-going crowd certainly agreed, eventually filling every available seat and standing room, begging for an encore – yearning for just that tiny bit more. Yearning for that final taste of our desire-inducing little secret. [Blake Burger,]

505, Sydney, Australia

“There are many whispers and a sense of anticipation

as Inga Liljestrom’s band – the bassist, double bass player, violinist, cello player and the effects and soundscape DJ take the stage. Inga appears barefooted, wearing a hippyish style sparkly red dress and half of her long wavy hair tied into a small bun. The double bass solely begins playing, and Inga starts weaving her magic, confidently beginning their performance tonight by singing All of This. By midway through the first song, I know that this is going to be one of the best performances I have ever seen in my life. I try to hold back tears of overwhelming joy as Inga begins exquisitely and softly moving about on stage. Her graceful body and celestial voice weave in and out of the music, she uses her delicate hands to express the dynamics of her voice, and she is completely at one with her fellow, extremely talented and illuminating band members. It is an amazing sight to behold such a passionate and elegant lady, so entranced, and moved by her band’s brilliantly composed sounds. Amongst the array of songs Inga perform tonight include Phoenix, Glow, Stardust, 29 Poisons, Bullet and Deer. Each song is as brilliantly executed as the next, the alluring melodies flowing and cascading down onto and amongst each other, as if each rhythm, melody, lyric and soundscape is all the ingredients of a hypnotising potion, gradually filling up and up until it beings flowing over the edges whilst Inga’s seductive and enchanting vocals literally soar vocally and emotionally to places I have never experienced via music before. I really never want this show to end, and for the first time I take my eyes away from Inga and her band to witness the audience’s reaction and response, and I can see every single eye completely in awe, transfixed by the divine beauty occurring before us all. Sadly, the show has to end and a distinct feeling of pleasure, privilege and pure delight of being able to experience something as special, rare and magicalas this show manifests in the room.” (Tania Rara,

Inga liljestrom by Zdenko Hanout

live photo by Zdenko Hanout

 Annandale hotel, Sydney

Inga went acoustic for the set accompanied by two cellists and a percussionist (who alternated between using a snare and a strange kind of home-made-looking contraption which he sat on and thumped with his hands, producing differing sounds depending on where he hit it), immediately sliding into a gorgeous rendition of Bullet, Inga’s signature soulful, airy alto wafting through the musical arrangement like incense.

Several unusual instruments made their debut; of particular interest was the telephone mic, a bright red 1950’s model. It produces a distant, distorted vocal, and appeared in several tracks, including the gorgeous, shiver-inducing Knotted.

Another highlight was Inga’s use of a tiny toy piano; surprisingly effective on the eerie Drowning Song. The lush, deep cellos on single Phoenix were transcendental. Inga closed (far too early, in my opinion) with a cover of Nina Simone’s Black is the Colour of My True Love’s Hair stripped back, heart worn-on-sleeve. I’m sorry, Ms. Liljestrom, I’ll go see you anywhere. Even if you hold a gig in a carpark. And, by the looks of things, I wouldn’t be alone.” []

Hopetoun hotel, Sydney.

On stage with two cello players, a toy piano and a telephone receiver.

Oh, heaven! She really can do no wrong… this double cello set up was spectacular! Inspired… I was blown away. It was a kinda performance that leaves a crowd speechless, breathless. Her exquisite vocals, cellos expertly plucked and bowed, the intricate songs, everyone in the room could feel that this was something extraordinary.[]


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