Electric Ballroom – March 4th
Such is the eccentricity that is rioting through Ariel Pink’s music, it’s a tantalising opportunity to see his fantasy world come to life. Last time I caught Ariel Rosenberg in London, he performed the first three songs via a video-link from his dressing room whilst his backing band dutifully plodded along on stage as if this was a completely sane, normal thing to do. By the third song I was certain he was going to stay there for the entire set. This time around, Pink graces our presence from the first track – but he doesn’t disappoint on the craziness. Even before he walks on stage, his imminent arrival is marked by the fake applause sound-effect you used to find on those old Casio keyboards pumped out the PA. He flies the freak flag like no other and, quite frankly, we wouldn’t have him any other way.
Flanked by a motley crew of 6 other musicians, all of whom are in various states of dishevelled beauty (the drummer chooses a winning combination of sports bar-and-cowboy hat), Pink declares that they will play the entirety his latest album Pom Pom. It takes only 4 or 5 songs to change his mind in order to play ‘Kinski Assassins’ from 2012’s Mature Themes, not that anyone seems to mind.
Pom Pom, which Pitchfork so perfectly described as “colourfully overstuffed, surprisingly intricate” takes on a cinematic feel tonight. Such is the variety in style to be found in the 17-track freak-rock opus, tonight each song feels like they could be scenes from a particularly trippy movie, thematically sitting somewhere between Kafkaesque disorientation (‘White Freckles’) and Pedro Almodovar’s absurdist humour (‘Jell-o’). The synthesized flute and rhythmic bass grooves of 80s pop jam ‘Lipstick’ could easily be the backing music for an opening montage of Pink cruising down the palm-tree lined Sunset Boulevard in a vintage Cadillac, whilst ‘Not Enough Violence’, with its propellent drum beat could soundtrack Pink on the run from a botched murder scene. It’s bizarre, beautiful and endlessly entertaining.
But if you came to the show for easy to follow narratives then you will have been severely disappointed. It seemed all too much for at least one punter, seen throwing on his jacket, loudly muttering ,“What the fuck is this!?” on his way to the exit. This was the exception to the rule, most people seemed transfixed. Although anyone with Pom Pom fatigue after all 17 songs would be forgiven. It does drag a little nearer the end of the set.
Closing with fan favourite ‘Round Round’, the biggest pop moment in his career thus far, we are reminded of what a uniquely talented artist Ariel Pink is. Yeah, he’s strange and all that, but he also writes bafflingly brilliant music with killer hooks. Tonight he was irresistible.
Buy: Ariel Pink – Pom Pom