October 5, 2010
Junip – Live at XOYO, 04/10/2010.
“We’ve been together for twelve years, and this is our first album”, explained José González, purveyor of honey-vocal acoustic folk and leader of Swedish band Junip. “It’s a good album, we’re very proud of it”.
González’s understated introduction was in keeping with the mood on the band’s debut, Fields, as well as the atmosphere they created inside London’s intimate XOYO. Superbly crafted and deftly performed material, interwoven with the effortless magic of González’s voice, washed over the 200-strong crowd from opener Rope and Summit to the dying strains of final encore Official. The modest contributions of the supporting cast in no way disguised their competent musicianship, and Junip’s no-gimmicks-needed approach in relocating carefully honed songs from the studio to the stage more than satisfied those hoping for some of González’s more advert-friendly solo work, which thankfully never materialised. What did, however, was a set largely consisting of material from Fields, with tracks such as In Every Direction and the moving Always proving particular audience favourites.
Positioned in between homely props such as a large clock and an illuminated globe, González, drummer Elias Araya and keys player Tobias Winterkorn were fleshed out by bass and percussion from Joel Wästberg and Johan Grettve to create a mellow and well-blended sonic unit, mostly due to Gonzalez’s refusal to play steel string acoustic and Winterkorn’s delightful selection of vintage keyboards.
An extensive back catalogue of covers was limited to a sensitive rendition of Springsteen’s Ghost of Tom Joad, reminding an ever-appreciative audience that, with assets like those possessed by Junip, a genre that can so often be bland and uninspiring can still take the breath away when done right.