Ed Kowalczyk

Vega, Copenhagen - 2013

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

It’s not often that we attend a seated concert, but when we do we never bring cushions!
Ok, so I’m not even sure myself what I meant by that, but Ed Kowalczyk had rolled into town with his I Alone acoustic tour, and the large concert hall of Vega was filled with chairs for the occasion.

Already during the bland and dragging support act by some Danish contemporary artist who shall (for her sake and yours) not be named, the seats were nearly filled, and from looking around the room shortly before Kowalczyk would take the stage, I would say the place was nearly sold out. That, or Vega had just checked the amount of sold tickets before placing chairs…
This was Kowalczyk’s second visit to Copenhagen in his days as a solo artist, and where his first visit which was in support of the debut album Alive saw him perform with a full backing rock band and a sound that was familiar to his old fans, the show tonight which followed his sophomore solo release called The Flood And The Mercy, was supposed to show a much more stripped down version of the music with just Kowalczyk performing, just as the tour title I Alone indicated. Or I Alone +1 as Kowalczyk called it, as he once again had bassist Chris Heerlein with him, now on an acoustic bass.

The stage was set for something special, that much was clear – there was no backdrop or anything else that indicated who was performing, nor were there any large, flashy decorations. In fact, the only thing on the stage except for the very instruments which were to be used, were a lot of candles to set the mood of intimacy. Why oh why did they have to be electrical though, that killed much the feeling that would have come from having actual candles (and yes, I do realize this may have been a safety issue, but honestly…).
Even so, the effect of everyone sitting down, and having only the glow of the candles and a discreet lightshow as the visual support of a concert of mostly acoustical music was not to be missed – this got under your skin in a way that most full-blown metal concerts like the ones we usually visit can’t even begin to replicate.

Even though the name Live had been effectively left out of promotion of the concert, it was soon apparent that Kowalczyk wasn’t in doubt as to what people expected to hear – in a concert with no less that 20 songs played, only a meagre six came from his own solo albums, four of which were from the latest one – in my opinion this was simply too little. It’s not often you will see me complain that an artist isn’t playing enough new material, but considering that on his last visit Alive was played all the way through save for one song, it seems very odd to me that Kowalczyk would be so harsh on his own material this time around.
My present favourite of The Flood And The Mercy, the simply named Seven, was among the songs played though, so I was happy, and there’s no doubt that the old Live songs still carry a punch, even in this version.
I have mentioned a few times now that this was an acoustical concert (note that this is not the same as unplugged, no matter what MTV would have you believe), and this was true for the most part, but in the only song played this evening which Kowalczyk had not been involved in making, the Bruce Springsteen cover I’m On Fire, he donned a Telecaster instead, or as he called it; ”...my Springsteen guitar” – this was also used on the following song, Pillar Of Davidson, in which the effect of it was even better in my humble opinion. Apart from this, only one other effect was used during the show, a special microphone with a much more metallic sound to it – it was used sparsely but to great effect for the most part.

Speaking between songs was also sparsely used, but when Kowalczyk did say something it was usually entertaining in a low-key way. The audience on the other hand had a lot to say, as they often shouted song requests, or simply stated that they loved the talented man on the stage. Strangely and in stark contrast to the presence that Kowalczyk displayed in performing the songs, he never took the time to answer any of the comments that were directed to him – the communication was one way this evening.
This didn’t stop him from picking up on the fact that people wanted to sing along though, and through the set there were several times where the crowd was allowed to join in on, or simply take over the choruses of the songs; none compared to Lightning Crashes though where people were standing, clapping their hands and swaying to the song as they all sang in unison – it was almost like a gospel meeting, without the religious part of course!

It’s hard for me to judge which type of show I like the better from Ed Kowalczyk, the regular rock oriented one or this acoustical stripped down thing, since they are so vastly different to each other even with the similarity in the setlists. Luckily, as I make the rules here, I don’t have to decide!
I will say this though, this concert lacked for nothing but for a little more connection between artist and audience, everything else was top notch and I loved every minute of it!

Setlist:

All Over You (Live cover)
The Distance (Live cover)
The Great Beyond
All That I Wanted
The Dolphin’s Cry (Live cover)
Angels On A Razor
Selling The Drama (Live cover)
Seven
Pain Lies On The Riverside (Live cover)
I’m On Fire (Bruce Springsteen cover)
Pillar Of Davidson (Live cover)
Heaven (Live cover)
I Alone (Live cover)
Overcome (Live cover)
Run To The Water (Live cover)
The One
Lightning Crashes (Live cover)
Grace
Turn My Head (Live cover)
Dance With You (Live cover)

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