A household name in their native Norway and a fair section of Europe, sassy 4-piece Katzenjammer hit the UK festival circuit earlier this year at Glastonbury, Cambridge Folk Festival and Bestival, becoming Steve Lamacq favourites and enticing a whole new horde of admirers along the way.
Word must have gotten out, because fans squashed into their gig at the London Monto Water Rats until they were packed in like a tin of sardines. Yet when Turid, Anne-Marit, Solveig and Marianne squeezed onto the rather tiny stage, the irritation of being jostled around soon gave way to something a lot more pleasant.
The four multi instrumentalists vigorously delivered a set that scoped from the tinselled folk of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’, through the gypsy, Gogol Bordello-esque crowd favourite ‘A Bar in Amsterdam’, to a hugely entertaining honky tonk cover of Genesis’ ‘Land of Confusion’.
It is a rare band who can pull off such a dizzying swap of instruments without seeming pretentious, yet Katzenjammer take it all in their stride. They also prove to have four very competent lead singers, but Marianne’s earth-shattering vocals, at times angelic and at others reminiscent of a Deep South soul diva with a 40-a-day habit, deserve special mention.
Soon enough they have the entire crowd singing along to their contagiously fun camp ditties – infused with a jumble of influences from Balkan Gypsy Folk to Cowboy Blues to Burlesque and everything else in between. Very obvious musical talents underpin their flair for colourful showmanship, preventing them from sounding like a novelty act.
Closing the set with sing-to-the-rafters, 4-piece a cappela ‘God’s Great Dust Storm’, they demonstrate how to shift from a lighthearted pop romp to blowing the roof off a cathedral in one move, leaving many a dropped jaw in their wake. Those searching for live entertainment of the highest caliber need look no further.