Ida Maria - Club Academy, 12/02/09

There hasn’t been much released this year so far that’s really grabbed my attention - most of my time has been spent watching local skate scene DVDs from Note (I would recommend these to absolutely anybody - for a fiver a throw, you can’t go wrong) or listening to Jarcrew (a year-round activity). And far be it from me to pronounce my album of the year in February, but I would be surprised if Ida Maria’s Fortress Round My Heart didn’t chart somewhere when 2010 comes swooping in.

My musical sweet tooth is not a secret - I like crap pop music and I am not ashamed. And while Fortress… ticks that box, it’s decidedly more than that. It’s a pop album, but with a clear mean streak, which comes in the form of Ida’s voice. And her voice really is astonishing - it’s the best of Kurt Cobain, Thao Nyugen and Andrea Zollo rolled into one small Norwegian woman - so much so that I had to see  if it would translate to the stage. I wandered to Club Academy, endured the NME crowd, I endured Flashguns (basically four copies of the same twelve-year-old boy), and finally came Ida Maria, who tore through her album in a little over an hour and delivered it perfectly acceptably. Not a bad show.

However - and there’s always a “however” - I knew what sort of gig it was going to be when Ida initially stumbled onto the stage to a ravenous cheer (conspicuously enough from a few of Satan’s own personal rahs standing in the front row, who spent half the gig taking pictures of themselves doing that stupid pout face and the other half doing that stupid scenester twat dance that makes you look like a marionette with rickets), and announced with more than a slight slur, “Big Hands did this to me”. Right.

I know that nobody’s complained about alcohol in rock ‘n’ roll since the 70s, but there’s a difference between a couple of beers beforehand and being so utterly plastered that you come onstage and embarrass yourself between the songs. And that was the weird thing about it - she hit every note, the songs were nigh-on flawless, but I can’t be the only person who found the protracted, mumbling slurs between songs to be grating after the fifth or sixth time. Fair enough, she was absolutely leathered and trying to speak a second language - good effort, but also one that I found so utterly cringeworthy that I nearly snapped my spine clean in two. I’m the last person to begrudge somebody a drink - but there comes a time when the funny drunk becomes tiresome and boorish, and when you’re paying to see them play it gets very tiresome very quickly.

I’m not sure what else to tell you. Maybe it is just me who finds that kind of thing annoying. But I really love the album. You might too. It’s great. Try and catch her sober though, I imagine it probably greatly improves things. I don’t know how easy a proposition that is, but try anyway.

John Tucker