THERE is an honesty about Lukas Forchhammer and his band, Lukas Graham, that is painfully brutal but also refreshingly heartfelt.
The Danish lead singer admitted early in the show Thursday night, March 2, at Manchester Academy that “this was the biggest crowd they had played for in the UK tour so far”. Even though the group has yet to sell out proper big stages such as Manchester Arena or Wembley Stadium it might not take long before they do. The monster hit “7 Years” namely garnered no less than three Grammy Awards nominations, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
Despite their recent worldwide success, the group, who only debuted globally last April, seemed fairly grounded with the staging consisting of nothing more than some classic 60’s lighting and several raised platforms.
The youthful and forthcoming Forchhammer and the rest of his remaining six band members must have made an instant impression as the crowd were on fire for almost the entire show. And who could blame them, the set consisting of 15 songs and lasting 75 minutes was not only highly spirited but also at times sincere. Joyful pop and soul tunes were mixed with more serious songs about his imprisoned friends from his youth and the sudden loss of his father. It actually got to the point where the frontman promised no more sad songs for the remainder of the evening.
But even with several emotion-filled numbers there was not any damper on the mood, and the crowd followed the bands slightest solicitations as well as making it hard for Forchhammer to have a moment of silence in-between tunes. Mainly using songs from their self-titled debut album, Lukas Graham started off with the powerful “Take The World By Storm” accompanied by an inspired three-man brass section, strengthening the warm big band feeling. “Drunk In The Morning” made perfect use of the classical sound an upright piano can give, as well as wooing the audience with a typical call and response refrain as an homage to the classical soul tunes.
Forchhammer, who ended up bare-chested in the final third of the night, paced restlessly back and forth on the stage, eager to please every part of the enthusiastic crowd. At times the Dane almost seemed a bit too attention seeking as if his constant foul mouth was trying to impress those present. The new father of a six-month-old kept changing the topics from talking about having a tougher childhood than most else, to comparing Magnus Larsson’s bass to a hooker. At least the 28-year-old did not try to overcomplicate his stories with metaphors and difficult words like some other artists tend to.
Although playing moving songs like “Better Than Yourself (Criminal Mind Pt. 2)” and “You’re Not There” the group managed to keep the spirit cheerful with the front runner’s crystal clear tenor receiving massive roars from the audience. Bassist Larsson and drummer Mark Falgren both got their moments in the limelight with impressive solos before the Manchester crowd also got some well-deserved attention. The Geordie accent got frowned upon by Forchhammer to massive laughter from the Mancunians, who also got to hear that they lived in one of his favourite cities because of his love for the local Irish flute player Michael McGoldrick.
Not once did his voice crack and credit needs to be given for both trying and succeeding with hitting all the high notes. He sounded almost like a mix between Ed Sheeran, James Morrison and James Bay, who all have got fascinatingly powerful tones.
— Cai Dixon Photo (@CaiDPhoto) March 3, 2017
The lack of a guitarist was unorthodox, but the brass section augmented the sound as well as bringing the pop and the soul perfectly together. The Maroon 5 likeness was easy to be heard at times, but influences from his childhood heroes The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Dr. Dre was also there as a result of the tunes being both soft and hard-hitting.
Lukas Graham finished off the only way they could by performing “Funeral”, an ode to how “everyone was welcome” to Forchhammer’s eventual funeral to celebrate life rather than mourn over the tragic. And even though the message from the group was poignant and meaningful the response from the crowd was as enthusiastic as ever.