The Notwist @ The Fleece, Bristol, 17/03/2014

The NotwistThe Notwist are an understated bunch. Before their gig at The Fleece, someone mingles with an audience member in front of me before he hastily disappears; 60 seconds later, he’s behind the keyboards on stage, as The Notwist emerge to a rapturous reception. They might have an understated demeanour, but there’s nothing understated about the next hour and a half of sonic beauty that immerses The Fleece.

The six-piece haven’t played in Bristol for almost five years and the set opener, "They Follow Me", serves to build the audience's tension and anticipation. The audience's energy is, however, released as the title track to the German's latest album, "Close to the Glass", finally gets the crowd grooving in a way you would never expect from a mod German indie band. We’re left with little time to settle down. The Notwist follow this up by unleashing "Kong", building to a five minute instrumental wig out at its conclusion.

After this point, the gig plays the majority of its course verging between varying sounds. We’re regularly treated to The Smashing Pumpkins-invoking indie of The Notwist's earlier albums, such as Neon Golden. Yet this slips seamlessly into the kraut-rock of their latest album, Close to the Glass. The sound may be varied, but the sonic quality and atmosphere is consistently sublime.

The kraut-rock quality of Close to the Glass reaches its greatest prominence in the final two songs of the main set. The six-piece penultimately play "Run Run Run" - a seemingly weak track on the album, which gains a new lease of life on The Fleece's stage. The song begins with just Markus Acher's vocals, before more and more layers are gradually added as it reaches a deafening, yet rhythmic, climax seven minutes later. Concluding with a slower track from Close to the Glass - "Casino", which has extra layers of synth added to it in this live performance. It’s impossible not to dance.

Usually after a gig, everyone either piles for the exit to beat the traffic or floods the stage to try and secure a setlist. When The Notwist don't return after their second wildly received encore, there’s a different feeling in the audience. Nobody moves for a long time, nobody chats for even longer. It seems that an hour and a half of faultless rhythmic grooves has hypnotised the audience, who take a short period of time to adjust to a reality that’s not based around synth and bass guitar loops. The Notwist are notoriously shy of touring and are not likely to return to Bristol for at least another five years. The hypnotised hundreds in Bristol's Fleece recognised that the only reason for them to be so reluctant to tour is to keep experiences like this special and will surely hope it is not another five years until they return.


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