LIVE: Long Distance Calling @ Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes

By Mark Johnson

Germany’s Long Distance Calling are no strangers to performing, having been around for a decade, and their confident, accomplished live performance oozes the kind of quality that can only come from a wealth of experience and huge amounts of talent. The band’s recently released record ‘TRIPS’ features vocals on only half the songs, a theme that’s continued in their live set. The first half is purely instrumental, mixing in songs from the new record as well as favourites from the back catalogue, and the intensity of the band’s eclectic mix of classic, prog and post rock translates perfectly on stage.

Like ‘TRIPS’, the performance is made up of various genres and styles and this variation keeps the set moving at a good pace, transfixing the audience’s attention throughout. At their heaviest, the guitars are punchy and aggressive but also delicate and intricate during the more progressive songs. Long Distance Calling’s ability to musically captivate an audience is no surprise having started life as an instrumental act before inviting a full-time vocalist into the mix in 2012. Previous vocalist and keyboard player Martin Fischer recently left the band, but in Petter Carlson, the remaining members have selected an outstanding replacement. Carlson joins the action mid-way through the set to perform ‘Reconnect’, one of the stand-out tracks from ‘TRIPS’, and his presence elevates the band’s already excellent performance to a new level.

Carlson delivers each song in a way that’s completely his own, both old songs and new, and his vocals are faultless throughout, never appearing breathless or uncomfortable. In addition to vocals, Carlson also pitches in on guitar, adding more depth to the instrumentals and as he interacts with the rest of the band he already seems completely in sync, both in terms of performance and personality. With his voice such a perfect fit for the band, it will be interesting to see how they all progress with this newly formed relationship in the future.

This show marks the end of the tour and on the last track the band invite their road crew to pick up a guitar and join them on-stage to enjoy the last few moments. They may not have been plugged in, but it’s still nice to see the camaraderie between the band and crew, reinforcing the feel-good atmosphere of the band’s performance. This is a band able to unite various genres and styles together into one coherent package, and to see their personalities reflecting their music in such an inviting way is just perfect.


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