Kaleo review: O2 Institute, Birmingham

“They are a bit like the Black Keys, crossed with Bon Iver.”

That’s what I was told when Icelandic four-piece Kaleo were recommended to me only a few weeks ago.
I like the Black Keys and I like Bon Iver, so of course I gave them a listen.

Kaleo’s 2016 album A/B really is a record of two halves.
The first half is blues rock, while the second is more gentle folk – both genres they excel in.

There were some 2,000 fans crammed into the O2 Institute in Birmingham on Saturday night for a sold out show.

Kaleo played through their repertoire of songs including the beautiful Automobile (my personal highlight of the night), the rocky No Good, and the hugely successful single Way Down We Go, which got by far the biggest sing along of the night.

Vor í Vaglaskógi is the only song the Icelanders sing in their native tongue, and while I don’t know the translation to the lyrics, it’s certainly a beautifully soulful piece of music.

Frontman Jökull Júlíusson’s soulful and gritty voice is one of the strongest I have ever heard, and he is up there the greatest voices in folk/rock of recent years, alongside the likes of Hozier and Nathaniel Rateliff.

It is clear the band do have more fun, and play with more freedom, in the rocky numbers, and that’s what they ended on.

“Lets have some fun,” shouted Júlíusson as the band crashed into their final song Rock ‘n’ Roller.

These boys are no flash in the pan, and I’m sure they are heading for great things.

I look forward to seeing them back in the UK, but I doubt it will be in as intimate a setting as this.