Concert Review: Anna of the North at Sugar Factory, Amsterdam

Anna of the North Sugar Factory Amsterdam

Photo: Michiel Vos, A Bit of Pop Music

Anna of the North brings synth pop to Amsterdam Dance Event
Every year in October, Amsterdam transforms into the capital of dance music with the Amsterdam Dance Event; a week full of parties, DJ sets, concerts and other electronic music entertainment. Under the name ADE Live, the organizers invited some artists to three different venues in the city. In the Sugar Factory, label PIAS presented Témé Tan, Vessels and Anna of the North!

Anna of the North, the Norwegian/Kiwi duo, finally released their debut album Lovers in September, so enough reason to go on tour. Anna and Brady, the other half of the duo, get company on stage from a drummer. Anna herself is dressed in a black shirt, black pants and sneakers which allow her to bounce around the stage constantly.  She is actively looking for interaction with her fans who dance and sing along in the front rows. During the night she points out all of them, sings a few sentences to them and then dances her way to the other side of the stage again. Her stage presence is charming, coming across as a slightly nervous girl next door who likes to party.

Anna first gained attention for her music with ‘Sway’ back in 2014 and she definitely did not forget about that. During her 45 minute set in Amsterdam she performed almost all pre-album singles, including the atmospheric ‘Oslo’, with which she opened. With the bouncy 80s synth pop tune ‘Us’ she properly got the crowd going while the rawer ‘Sway’ is one of the highlights of the night as well. The stunning ‘The Dreamer’, the track that made A Bit of Pop Music fall in love with Anna of the North, sounded even more explosive and vivacious in a live setting than it already does on record.

Of course they also play a handful of tunes from their classy debut record, of which the moving ‘Always’, title track ‘Lovers’ and the deliciously 80s inspired ‘Someone’ make a lasting impression. Anna’s voice is the soft, sometimes icy and crystal clear kind and although she does not really need much vocal back up, she does deserve a better sound mixing than what we heard in the Sugar Factory. Instead of soaring above the swinging synths, her vocals at times get buried, because her microphone is sometimes not loud enough in the mixing. Anna herself makes the most of what she has to work with and shakes the nerves off quickly and enjoys her moment to the max. By the time the last song, the incredibly catchy ‘Fire’, plays, everyone in the Sugar Factory swings their hips to the hook overloaded synth pop of Anna of the North.

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