Although Scandinavia has produced generation after generation of gifted musicians, those that take up instruments in this part of the world have an inbuilt obstacle to forging any sort of success for themselves.
For although Norwegian post-punk rockers Lukestar keep on insisting how wonderful it is to be playing on this particular night, they seem genuinely flummoxed by their unexpected shift into headliners for the night after previous top-liners Red Light Company succumb to illness.
Whilst too much of a bellicose attitude in a band can lead to indulgence and an attachment to sunglasses even in the darkest of rooms, a little preening and posturing should always remain part of their presentation. For as anyone who has been in thrall to any sort of group knows, bands need a certain swagger and self-aggrandisement, simply to make them stand out against the slew of bands that slope into venues night after night.
This is so they can be remembered above others and that the absurdity of opening one’s throat to numerous strangers as part of one’s nocturnal activities can be more readily overcome. However, with Scandinavians, centuries of Protestant dominance has led to a culture of meekness and earnestness that is found in many bands from these shores.
They even have a word for it, ‘janteloven’, which is the belief that one should never think oneself better than anyone else. A wonderfully pleasant idea but completely at odds with the boisterous post-punk rock upon which Lukestar have built their burgeoning reputation.
They begin earnestly, pounding out their opener as if they are trying to push back the walls of the venue by volume alone. They rattle through their début EP, Toba Lake, with a mixture of dynamism and nervous energy, the repeating rousing refrains giving plenty to be enthused by if not totally won over with.
The group has two advantages it should be able to build upon. The first is a coherency and a tightness that has come from a long time on tour. It means that their songs, filled with angular guitars and frenetic drumming, do have a real potency even if it is a little stifled. Even after a full set, an attempted clap-along only musters a few participants amongst the audience before dimly drawing to a close.
But the second stone to build upon is that of the group’s singer. His falsetto voice should not work with the material but it does and draws everything together, swooping upwards to emerge above the guttural twangs of the guitars. Lukestar are a fine band with nifty, catchy songs. If only they would take the next step and admit to themselves that they might be quite good after all.
Lukestar played at The Luminaire last night, November 24
311 High Road
Kilburn NW6 7JR
Tel: 020 7372 7123
They play tonight at Dublin Castle, Camden