Live Review: Diablo Swing Orchestra – London

Live Review: Diablo Swing Orchestra – The Underworld, Camden, London
20th May 2023
Words: Jon Wigg

The last time Diablo Swing Orchestra played in the UK was a one-off affair at the Camden Underworld. Back then they were coming off the release of their superb 2009 album, Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious, the release that first brought the band to my attention. Replete with singer AnnLouice Lögdlund and her operatic style, a great night was had by all, although many of the audience that night, were not quite sure what they were watching, including myself. What we did know is that Diablo Swing Orchestra are fun.

Since then, Lögdlund has been replaced by the fantastic Kristin Evegård who has appeared on their last two albums, 2017’s Pacifisticuffs, and 2021’s Swagger & Stroll Down the Rabbit Hole.

three shows in the UK were announced in January and the London gig, again in the cramped surrounds of the Underworld, sold out in a few days. So on a warm Saturday evening, 500 Diablo Swing Orchestra fans descended on the venue, and were entertained royally, by a 2 hour, 21 song set, that will live long in all our memories.

With their blend of swing, metal, prog rock and classical, Diablo Swing Orchestra are a difficult band to define. Featuring twin guitars, drums, electric bass, a cello, trumpet and trombone, plus a talented group who all add their vocals to supplement Evegård, eclectic would be a reasonable word to describe them and they certainly define any proper categorisation. They are just Diablo Swing Orchestra.

With a setlist covering all five of the band’s albums releases and over 17 years of music, the crowd certainly could have had no complaints about song selection.

Now Evegård is certainly a different style of singer than Lögdlund, who departed the band in 2014 to concentrate on her opera career. Kicking off with the amazing Guerrilla Laments, Evegård doesn’t try to copy her predecessor’s tone or style but makes these older tracks her own, with a powerful, but more traditional rock/pop voice. Her performance was transfixing all nights, with the highlight for me, being her solo rendition of New World Widows. This song, in its original form from Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious was a rousing, fast paced and heavy track on which Lögdlund’s operatic vocals soar over the crunching riffs. Tonight, the band depart the tiny stage and leave Evegård to provide the audience with a hauntingly beautiful rendition in which she accompanies herself on keyboards, and she really makes the song her own.

And to follow this amazing moment, the band launches into Lucy Fears the Morning Star, in which Lögdlund’s shrieks are replaced by almost death metal growls, in what is probably their heaviest track.

This adaptability, and changes in style is what really makes Diablo Swing Orchestra unique. And to see them demonstrate this in front of a packed Underworld, with a crowd who repeatedly sang along with gusto, at some points replacing the vocals of the second lead vocalist, Daniel Håkansson which seemed to go down well with all present.

The band work so well together on stage, with every member contributing to the atmosphere, and from my perspective, really enjoying performing together. Their chemistry is evident and despite the cramped surroundings and ever increasing heat, they seemed to really enjoy their night.

Other highlights in an evening that was one long highlight, were Celebremos lo Inevitable, sung entirely in Spanish, and the Irish themed, Jig of the Century.

It was so great to see such an enthusiastic, and sold out crowd for Diablo Swing Orchestra and with an ending comprising signature tracks Balrog Boogie and Vodka Inferno, every person in the Underworld went home with a massive smile on their face.

Swagger & Stroll Down the Rabbit Hole was my personal favourite album in 2021. This show is my gig of the year for 2023 so far, and it will take something really special to overtake it.

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