Pepe Deluxé

Pepe Deluxé debut London gig

There’s something exciting about finding new music, even if that music isn’t particularly new. This isn’t a case of uncovering some old blues or soul singer from yesteryear. This happens to be a Finnish band making their first appearance in the UK, despite the fact they have been around since 1996, with their albums getting critical acclaim, as well as appearing in award-winning ads for Levi’s and Lee Jeans (but, ironically, not Pepe). They’ve even done remixes for the likes of Tom Jones, Eminem and The Cardigans.

The gig at Scala in Kings Cross was to promote their new album Queen of the Wave, a concept album based on the legend Atlantis, with other sci-fi themes thrown in. Looking at their website I was expecting some sort of strange electronic music with shades of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (minus the sarcastic robots), but the music was a real surprise.

The gig started off with their compatriots and label stablemates, Husky Rescue, a three-piece that sounds exactly how you would expect them to from their appearance: the chilled electronica (a la Sigur Ros) that emanates from that region, in contrast to the death metal that is also very popular in the sub Arctic Circle countries. Despite all the electronics, there was also something organic about the music, possibly because the presence of pixie-like neo-hippy singer Johanna Kalén, who played an assortment of instruments that included some decidedly homemade percussion items.

For the headline act I was expecting something similar, except more upbeat. It least I got the upbeat part right. The music was very much in a funk-soul rock vein that defied the audience not to dance along. In fact, the room was clearly made up of long-established fans, and not neophytes like myself, as they were also joining in with the words. Great guitar licks, gutsy vocals and a solid percussion section had me hooked. The retro sci-fi I was expecting was nowhere to be heard and only evidenced by the video clips playing in the background, most of which can be found on the band’s website, but that actually played in their favour because it was clear these were more than a gimmick band. These were professional musicians intent on belting out some rocking tunes. In fact, I was so impressed I went home and ordered the deluxe special edition of their latest CD. I just hope it lives up to their live performance, and that they’ll do more gigs in this country, just in case.