Live Review: Adam Pedersen, Nuts and Berries at Larimer Lounge

Adam Pedersen and Nuts and Berries Tuesday, July 29, 2008 Larimer Lounge Better Than: Going home mad because I was supposed to go to a different show.

Adam Pedersen had just started his set when I finally got to the Larimer. I would say he is better known for having been in Silence in Contempt but most people probably haven’t heard of that band. At any rate, tonight Pederson wasn’t with his full band (the stunning The Silo Gathering); it just him and his large keyboard set-up—a Casio Privia. Because his unique voice is such a force unto itself, he really doesn’t need any more than that.

Pedersen’s greatest strength is his versatility, the way he’s able to whisper emotively one moment and escalate to a chilling intensity the next, all within the same song. But he never shows off. For his third song, he alternated between minimalist piano accompaniment to fast-paced, headlong lines of music. It sounded like he was trying to capture the hectic nature of modern life and those quiet, introspective moments some of us get to reflect on our experiences and savor them.

From the fourth song forward, Pedersen played his electric acoustic and seemed more comfortable with that instrument. The guy doesn’t just play nice chord progressions, his guitar style is multi-layered and often he sounds like he’s playing three different guitar parts at the same time without resorting to a loop pedal. As a result, each song featured a beautiful array of tones and textures through sheer technique, finesse and imagination. The fifth song had a Spanish flavoring and that gave it a depth and dynamism that set the stage for Pederson’s voice to engage in the free flow of unfiltered emotion that makes his singing so real and raw.

Whereas some singers make a virtue of being rough and even crude, there’s none of that in Adam’s whole oeuvre. It’s tempting to compare Pedersen’s aesthetic to torch songs because he’s so good at evoking despair, anguish and loss, often regarding a relationship and maybe that’s what he’s doing. Pederen’s a rare breed of singer who is both delicate yet forceful, graceful yet unguarded.

Brad Turner, the man behind Nuts and Berries, closed out the night with his laptop. While there’s elements of electro-pop in his sound, that description doesn’t do the guy and his fascinating music justice. Turners songs were rich and diverse and recalled the quieter side of Depeche Mode and Erasure, if not in sound, definitely in structure. Over the course of his set, Turner employed a dizzying array of electronic sounds that provide percussive layers of texture, which complement his vocals. Turner can sing. He doesn’t fake it or try to make inept singing interesting; last night he was solid and so was his set.

-- Tom Murphy

Personal Bias: Even though I don’t get to see him often, I’m a big Adam Pedersen fan. Random Detail: A lot of people seemed to show up for the Nuts and Berries set. By the Way: There are cool, obscure bands playing the Larimer Lounge on weeknights every week that get totally overlooked.

This is the twenty-four in a series of thirty consecutive shows that Tom Murphy is planning on attending. His whole idea is to prove that there's cool stuff going on any night of the week in Denver, if you bother to make any effort whatsoever to find it. He suggested naming this series, "This Band Could Be Your Life," a fitting designation to be sure. Since there's already a similarly titled book, however, we opted to file these entries under Last Night's Show -- you know, to avoid being sued an all. (Sorry, Tom.)

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