Live report: The Knife @ The ICA, London 02/08/05
This night had "event" stamped all over it. It was hard to tell whether the 400 or so assorted punters were there to have a good time or be there simply for the sake of being seen. None of us had any idea what to expect due to The Knife previously refusing to play live concerts.
Once inside the darkened venue the audience was subject to a series of hypnotic visuals soundtracked by classic Aphex Twin. Suddenly the lights were dimmed and a short film about how Frau Rabid signed The Knife was broadcast. The movie featured some cute animation and dry humour but was slightly let down by the American accents of the characters.
When the film had finished one could sense the palpable air of expectation from the audience. Suddenly two bodies entered the darkened room and walked onto the stage. Karin and Olof were nondescript, both wearing baseball caps covering their faces, and clad in black clothes. Each sibling stood at opposing ends of the stage behind a keyboard, with a massive cinema screen between them.
Their performance harked back to the days of when "dance" musicians were first thrust into the limelight. Back in the late 80s when producers made electronic records in their bedrooms they never expected to put on a live show, just believing that the music would do the talking. In this sense, The Knife's performance was more of a PA than a live gig. They played just three songs: A souped up glitchy version of "Heartbeats", the forthcoming UK single "You Take My Breath Away" and "You Make Me Like Charity".
In a little under 15 minutes The Knife's first ever concert had begun and ended. However, they’d done enough as the impression they left on the tastemakers and hipsters was obvious. A pounding electro DJ set from Rex the Dog followed, but three-quarters of the crowd had already left by this time.
- Nick Levine