As the air is painted with the pastel sounds of seashell recordings, Hanne Hukkelberg and fellow Norwegian band mates bumble around the stage nomadically trying to set up for the night’s proceedings. Despite the warm ambience that has been set in the room for this, her only tour date in the UK, the atmosphere on stage is tense as the perpetual battle between sound engineer and musician is lost in translation over technicalities, only to end in furrowed brows and shrugged shoulders on both sides.
However, as the crowd ruminates to the aural undulations that allude to Hanne’s entrance, all has not been lost in the patient anticipation that is felt from the humble gathering in attendance. Stepping coyly onto the stage with an empty wine glass in hand to open with the brooding thrum of ‘Bandy Riddles’, it becomes clear how captivating Hukkelberg is as a performer. As her vocal reaches far beyond her petite figure, the Norwegian singer-songwriter sheds singing styles like a Russian Doll: crooning with a jazz fluidity through the likes of ‘Cheater’s Armoury’ to the angelic swoon of ‘Blood From A Stone’ to the rasping rock abrasions of ‘In Here/Out There’, Hanne may appear to be floating in a pool of indefinable influences; however she uses this eclectic appeal to great effect, holding the crowd with an attentive, appreciative string throughout as they applaud tardily after each song with open-mouthed admiration.
Returning to the stage for an encore of ‘Ticking Bomb’, she beats metronomically at the wine glass with which she entered. With the chalice withstanding, her face contorts and cracks discomfortingly as to evoke her own thought and feeling behind the song’s underlying detail and not the glass’ frangibility, it’s her shattered mosaic of melodic jazz and dissipated pop experiments that ring soundly on the night and travel tangibly beyond any possible language barriers.