Live Reviews

Dungen Live

The Garage, London

What justice is there in a world where James Blunt can sell out every venue under the sun yet the Garage is less than half full tonight for what is arguably the best psychedelic pop band to swoop this earth since Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd tuned in and dropped far out? We shouldn’t be surprised. In a world where only the lowest common denominator will suffice, it’s hardly surprising that a band as wilfully strange as Swedish quartet Dungen would go over people’s heads. Plus, they have the guts to sing in their native tongue and aren’t afraid of damaging their commercial potential by not singing in English. And in the same way that some people won’t watch films with subtitles, some people won’t listen to Dungen, despite the fact that they write what are very odd, but very brilliant pop songs.

None of this matters one bit. It’s their loss. Throughout their hour and a half set tonight Dungen are classic seventies heavy prog-rock (‘Panda’), blissful fuzzy pop (‘Gjort Bort Sig’) and freaked-out symphonic exotica (new single ‘Festival’) and carry each shifting change in style with ease and confidence. The can swing from being crushingly heavy to achingly beautiful in a mere breath and look almost as good as they sound, coming across like extras from the Hair Bear Bunch with a Rick Wakeman look alike on guitar!

Proof of Dungen’s brilliance is in the fact that not once during their lengthy set tonight do they lose grip on our attention, sucking us into their twisted world they don’t let us go until the bitter end before spitting us out on the floor in a heap. “Fucking brilliant!” screams a clearly blown away fan from the front of the stage. “I know,” replies bassist Henrik Nilsson with a knowing nod. Dungen know how good they are. They’re just waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.

James Sherry