Jesper Binzer

Tobakken, Esbjerg - 2018

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Jesper Binzer is certainly a famous name on the Danish, and international, rock scene. Back in 1982, he was part of a trio of friends that started Denmark’s possibly most hailed rock band of the ages, D-A-D. Last year, some 35 years later, he delivers his first solo album, Dying Is Easy, and as D-A-D is taking a sabbatical, Binzer has now hit the road in support of this album.

“Dear Esbjerg, dear friends, goddamn we’ve been looking forward to seeing you!”
- Jesper Binzer (vocals/guitar)

After listening to the album a bit, I must admit, I didn’t really know what I was supposed to think about the whole deal. I mean, by the sound of it, it’s not like Binzer was really moving into new territory with Dying Is Easy, not really stepping out of his comfort zone. It’s a rock album, a mix of softer songs and more hard-hitting one's - overall pretty much the same deal we’d get from his main band. I’m not saying this is bad, I’m just saying it’s nothing surprising. So, what was to be expected with the show? The same thing? We needed to check this out for ourselves of course.

We caught up with Binzer at Tobakken in Esbjerg, a place Lunah Lauridsen has good history with, but one I’ve never visited before. Well, sure, we visited Konfus, a small stage in the same building some years ago, where we saw Macabre, but this was the first time in the main hall, as it were. First of all, I’d like to say what a cool hall this is. It’s inside, but by the looks of it, it’s located between two brick buildings, with a special roof built overhead. There’s a wide, but not very deep stage, reflecting the room as a whole. Opposite it and across the floor, there are two sets of balconies, one approximately at stage level, and one on top of that. Both of the balconies were closed this particular evening, but given the amount of guests, this wasn’t a problem at all. Despite what you’d imagine, given the brick walls, the sound was actually very good. Now, it was just up to the band to deliver the goods…

With him, Binzer had brought Søren Andersen (whom we’ve previously seen together with D-A-D, Pretty Maids, Mike Tramp, and Oliver Weers), who on the album is credited (among other things) as guitarist, bassist, and producer - here he was solely guitarist though, and sometimes ping pong partner in Binzer’s many anecdotes.
Also on the album, we have Jakob Rønlov playing the drums, which he was also doing here on the tour. There was one more guitarist, and a bassist, but sadly I was unable to catch their names.
Binzer himself stood for vocals, occasional acoustic guitar, and between songs entertainment.

“Esbjerg, I’ve forgotten to read up on jokes between songs, so you won’t get any of that.”
- Binzer (vocals/guitar)

I say entertainment, these weren’t the classic run-of-the-mill jokes we’ve gotten used to, even somewhat tired of, through the years. No, this time around we saw Jesper Binzer fill out the silent gaps with personal, private anecdotes, as well as stories about the creation of certain songs, instead of the puns and one-liners he does with D-A-D. This wasn’t as heavy and serious as it might sound, Binzer is an entertainer at heart, and had a fun spin on his stories, but we nevertheless saw a man sharing much more of himself than we’ve ever seen before.
This was true for the music as well, for that matter. Sure, we’re still talking rock music, but both in writing and delivery, this was a much more scraped to the bone, less gimmicky, and more mature (dare I say adult) approach to it all. And you know what? It became him. It became him damn well. Binzer spoke about the recent D-A-D tour, about only playing material made some 25-30 years ago, and how he felt a need to break away from that. He’s grown, changed, and moved past that stage in his personal life, so why should he be forced to stay stuck there in his artistic life? This whole solo project is about showing him for who and where he is now, and we as an audience could actually feel the man behind the music, more so than ever before I dare say.

The sad twist of it is, that when he’s playing with D-A-D, they sell out everything they get booked to, and on this tour, he wasn’t even able to fill the ground floor of a mid-sized venue, even with both balcony levels closed. This show deserved a better attendance, and people attending it were all the better for it. The rest, they missed out.
The reaction of the crowd wasn’t what we’re used to either. One thing is of course not having years and years getting familiar with the content - with the one exception of the The Savage Rose cover Wild Child, which ended the show, just as it ends Dying Is Easy, Binzer only played songs from the solo album. Another, I suspect, is that this material lends itself better to reflection than drinking and partying. Sure, there are fast rock tracks that are fun and games, the title track not in the least, but on several songs the tempo is turned down just a little, and with the addition of the more personal and insightful lyrics, well, not all the crowd was a rockin’ and a rollin’. But that’s ok, it wasn’t really necessary.

Does this mean the end of D-A-D? Hardly. This was done to get something off a true artist’s chest, whether it would hold or break. I see no threat to the established force that is D-A-D, in Jesper Binzer doing this - if anything, the threat would be in keeping him from it.
Are we then tired of D-A-D? Not in the least! I look forward with to what the giant rock machine will bring us next. But, I will also look forward to seeing what the illustrious frontman will do on his own.
But isn’t it all the same thing in the end? Yes, and no. You can certainly take Dying Is Easy, and just enjoy it as another rock album, and that would be fine. You could see it as a disc of bonus tracks to your favourite domestic rock orchestra, and no one would hold it against you. You could, however, also delve deeper into it, and get the full-blown experience this liveshow showed me it could be. It’s up to you. But take this little advice with you as you leave - if Jesper Binzer comes round to play near you, don’t cheat yourself of the opportunity!


Dying Is Easy (Rock’N’Roll Is Hard)
The Space She’s In
Planet Blue
Real Love
Rock On Rock On Rock
I See It In You
Saint Fantasia
The Bumpy Road
Tell Myself To Be Kind
The Future Is Now
Dream Big
Wild Child (The Savage Rose cover)

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