Author: Frederik Voss


Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, Denmark (February 9, 2017)

The Venue

Konservatoriets Koncertsal, in the most central part of Frederiksberg, is a beautiful 3-floor concert hall that has been listed as a protected building in Copenhagen since 1994. You can see why when you enter the place. With wooden interiors and a beautiful organ, the building instantly challenges Operaen as the most beautiful venue Mew’s music has been performed at in Denmark – and in my opinion, it won as well. It is a fitting comparison because 60 Minutes of Mew was the first time since the Opera gigs that a concert was something different – a special evening.


Had Mew been able to bring a classical orchestra when they were playing through the years, they probably would have done it. Jonas Bjerre once explained how the by now canonical visuals of animals joining Mew on stage to catapult the audience into their comforting-catharsis, was exactly a way to compensate for the lack of actual violins. Again the concert in Operaen springs to mind, with the orchestral intro of an animal orchestra. Despite the visuals ending up being a justified feature on their own, there can be little doubt after that Mew would have wanted to bring a live classical orchestra had it been possible. Because that is truly what they are. They are not pop songs, but pop compositions.

And yet, the match is even better than that. Mew have always been grandiose maximalists. Sit back and listen to Silas the Magic Car one more time. It is the song that was clearly supposed to be laid back and humble. A small intimate song. What do you end up with? An amount of layers so big that any child learning to count could lose faith in their math abilities. Followed by an album-ender that picks up the melody again and thrust it with synths big enough to leave the atmosphere. And we love them for it, don’t we? One big group of sentimentalists cherishing a band of sentimentalists. Seriously, it applies to you too.

There are not a lot of better ways to have get emotional or maximalistic than with a 45-person orchestra, two choir singers, a lovely venue, Mew themselves and a back catalogue that should have plenty of options to do something interesting.

The Show

After a small introduction from the musical director of Copenhagen Phil – and much in Mew fashion – a little special composed intro that let the musicians of the orchestra tune their instruments to the sounds of a sea of clock-ticking noises and synths, the three members entered the stage.

The show started out with a version of Making Friends that would showcase what kind of concert it’d be. In the center of the show were the compositions. Not Mew or the orchestra. And so, Johan Wohlert and Silas Graae often had long periods of silence and seemed slightly more like part of the orchestra playing their part when it made sense for the compositions rather than the main attraction of the evening. Some Danish reviewers have criticized the concert for that – that they ended up becoming side acts in their own show. I do not quite buy the premise. It is a about the music to me – not a narcissistic count of minutes of how often Johan would strike his bass strings.

From the very start of the show, the goosebumps started arriving. Hearing these songs with such a fine detail of dynamics in a venue with superb acoustics was astounding. Jonas’ vocals have never been so clearly detailed live as they were here. That also highlighted whenever he was struggling a bit with high notes and on some songs they chose to take down his a vocal melodies an octave – whether this was a compositional choice or not, we can only guess.

Making Friends was followed by Satellites – two songs that seemed natural to perform with their synth strings, harp and marimba. I was more surprised when they started playing Water Slides, as this is one of the simplest of their songs, and one that one would not naturally have chosen for an orchestra. It gained a lot of the dynamics between verse and chorus however, which was interesting. To my big surprise Rows completed the beginning + – section of the concerts. With its Steve Reich-like ending and huge amount of layers, it is one of those songs that you would want an orchestra to play – and to me it worked perfectly. I was ecstatic by the end of the song.

And then the concert turned into a next level Mew experience for me. A raw hard-hitting version of Louise Louisa caught me totally off guard, with the beautiful rhythms of Silas being mimicked by the entire string section. The climatic drum solo has never sounded bigger or more beautiful. As if this was not enough, they followed it with An Envoy to the Open Fields. I would argue that song is the most complex Mew song along with Beautiful Balloon and the reversible set of New Terrain/Nervous, and they have unfortunately never really been able to pull it off live in a way that really made it sound as intimidatingly great as on And the Glass Handed Kites. Well, until this concert. My heart started pounding so hard and and this point I was more like one big goosebump with feelings of nostalgia attached to it, trying to catch its breath. My sentimentalism exposed by the 170 bpm breath, that had the person sitting next to me worrying about me. White Lips Kissed finished of the Kites section with its rich possibilities to do string arrangements before Mew left the stage to much applause.

The encore consisted of new single Carry Me to Safety, a song which honestly hasn’t really caught my interest too much. After the second of the two shows, that was the melody that stuck with me. Growing. Comforting Sounds pretty much sounded like what you would expect – grandiose.

Unpredictably Unpredictable

I had a conversation the day before the show that revolved around which songs they were likely to play. With only 60 minutes according to the title of the show, the participants of the conversation firmly agreed that there would be no Rows, seeing as Comforting Sounds was impossible to get around and a teaser had already surfaced from the rehearsals with that. Also, it was firmly believed that Am I Wry? No and 156 would most likely make in into the set. Because they always do, don’t they?

Last time I watched Mew in Copenhagen in Falconer Salen, I left the place disappointed, because they seemed like a band unwilling to take risks or renew themselves. It seemed like a band clinging onto a beautiful formula that was conceived around one and a half decades earlier. It was predictable. For the same reason, I was really looking forward to this concert, as it would have to feel different than what a Mew concert had felt like for so long.

60 Minutes of Mew was the antidote to that feeling. I would have laughed loudly at any person who would have told me that I would ever get to see Rows, Louise Louisa AND Comforting Sounds in the same concert, even more if the person told me the concert was only supposed to be 60 minutes. Not a single No More Stories… song. Hearing the songs shaken up with different sounds was just what I needed to hear. I felt challenged for the first time in a Mew show since I-don’t-know-when. The sounds, compositions and setlist were actually impossible to guess. I wish going to Mew a concert always felt like this. This and the acoustic concert in London, which I unfortunately did not attend, has made it clear to me that Mew might have been to afraid to take chances in latter part of their career. They ought to take big chances with both their sound and performances. Taking these chances will throw some people off and it will pay off greatly with others. And so it was clear that some people did not enjoy this orchestral experience very much. Personally I rate it up there among my top three best live experiences with Mew among the close to 30 concerts I have witnessed. Last time I was this surprised and touched might very well have been my first Mew concert at Roskilde Festival in 2005, which was the experience that makes me finish the words of this article. Think about it again – with an international indie breakthrough. Who would go out and make an album that dark and which runs as one continuous piece? That is bold risk-taking. Who would make a song that is supposed to play both ways production-wise? They essentially survived production suicide. Mew are greatest when they are unpredictable.

Text: Frederik Voss
Photos: Britney C. Arsenault & Ann Lancaster

Setlist: Konservatoriets koncertsal (both performances)
Orchestral tuning intro / Making Friends / Satellites / Water Slides / Rows / Louise Louisa / An Envoy to the Open Fields / White Lips Kissed —– Carry Me To Safety / Comforting Sounds




Today it was announced that Mew is going to play a special concert in a collaboration with Copenhagen Phil. February 9, 2017 the two will go on stage in the concert hall of the Royal Danish Academy of Music performing rearranged version of already released songs, but perhaps even more surprising – new songs too.

Copenhagen Phil is one of the first professional symphony orchestras in the world with a history closely connected to Tivoli, the old amusement park that marks the center of the Danish capitol. The orchestra which was started in 1843 has a series called 60 minutes where popular music meets classical composition, which the collaboration with Mew is also a part of.

Karsten Fundal will be rearranging the songs with Mew, which should excite people familiar with the Danish indie scene. The composer has previously been rearranging songs with Under Byen, Efterklang and Choir of Young Believers in a similar fashion. Besides that he is known for composing music for Danish films.

Mew released a press release earlier today:

“We are incredibly excited and happy to announce our collaboration with Copenhagen Phil. February 9 2017 we are performing in the concert hall of The Royal Academy of Music side by side with this eminent symphony orchestra, where we will reinterpret and rearrange song from our catalog – and present entirely new material, which no one has heard before.”

So far 2016 has only seen Mew play one concert in Spain, which is most likely going to be the only one. It seems like we now know why: Mew has gone full throttle on making new music.

Ticket sales start tomorrow (Tuesday 16th) at 10:00 CEST with prices ranging from 250-290 dkkr including fees.

EDIT: Second show announced for the same date. Showtimes on February 9th, 2017 are 6:30pm and 9pm. Tickets for the earlier show go on sale (from the same link above) this Thursday at 10am (Danish time).


Copenhagen, Denmark (November 4, 2015)


Sometimes for reasons unknown things don’t quite go as you want them to.

As I look around the venue I wonder whether this is the oldest crowd I have ever experienced at a Mew gig. Things have definitely happened since those early concerts in 2006 where you would have lines of teenage girls in the front rows screaming at Mew, completing the most genuine of rock clichés. Tonight at Falconer Salen in one of the slightly expensive areas of Copenhagen, Mew attract a far more mature audience as a kind of juxtaposition to those nights in KB Hallen almost 10 years ago. Mew too have grown slightly more mature and with that comes a certain amount of predictability, I guess. Have you read the live reviews preceding this one, you are up to date. There’s no reason for me to tell you that again.

Which moments do I enjoy the most then? Introducing Palace Players is one of my absolute favourite tracks. Finally getting to hear it live again is a pleasure despite the absence of the intro. Sometimes Life Isn’t Easy features a female live saxophonist whose name I don’t catch. She does a nice job. The visuals might be displayed with the highest resolution I have experienced at a Mew show. Crystal clear and big. During Making Friends I find myself totally immersed in the visuals. I am not certain if new stuff has been added since Roskilde, but it definitely feels more attention grabbing tonight. Rows still makes me shiver. So grandiose. Throughout the concert Mew seem at ease. They have grown into their set, and the new songs, since May and Roskilde.

Normally the predictability is not a problem for me. Mew, more than any other I know, can make me feel nostalgic and let me zoom out on my own life in a very specific way. They have been there following me through most of my life. Tonight I just cannot get into that nostalgic state of mind and at the same time Mew is not forcing me somewhere new. The more mature crowd around me looks happy and satisfied though. Have I seen Mew too many times? Is the setlist too similar? Am I too stressed to enjoy myself this evening? For whatever reason this concert experience does not quite turn out as I want it to.

Text: Frederik Voss
Photos: Lizethe Rivera
Photo Gallery

Setlist: Falconer Salen
Witness / Satellites / Special / The Zookeeper’s Boy / Introducing Palace Players / Sometimes Life Isn’t Easy (w/ saxophone) / Water Slides / Snow Brigade / She Spider / Medley / Making Friends / Rows / Am I Wry? No / 156 — My Complications / Comforting Sounds


Roskilde, Denmark (July 3, 2015)

A month and a half ago when I left the Mew show in Amsterdam, I had a pretty clear idea about how the concert at Roskilde Festival would be. A longer setlist that would include Rows, visuals back in for the evening, a huge crowd and a band that was greatly motivated to make the concert memorable. I am about to be very right about all those things, yet it isn’t nearly going to be the concert I had imagined in the Netherlands. Mew is a trio again, and it’d be wrong to say it isn’t a weird feeling. Before the concert, Danish media are buzzing, trying to get an answer about his departure, but none is given. The rumour spreads like wildfire across the camping area. Bo Madsen has left Mew.

With a lack of solidarity, I jump into the queue a couple of hours before concert start. The first fellow frengers have been queueing for more than 12 hours to get into the front pit of the stage. I’m not planning to be in front rows though, so I make up excuses for my bad behaviour. I have missed several concerts due to excessive alcohol intake during the festival. I – of course – don’t want to miss Mew, and so for the first time in days I’ve had less than five alcoholic beverages for half a day. My body is responding weirdly to the lack of alcohol and my voice is almost gone on the second last day of the festival. They are set to play at 1:30 on Friday night at Roskilde’s main stage, Orange. A perfect slot in the schedule for a Mew concert, many would argue. I agree.

They open much like they’ve been doing since the release of +-, with Witness and Satellites. The crowd is ecstatic. As they reach The Zookeeper’s Boy, the long shelved visuals are back on. I must admit it is a great pleasure to see them again after so many years. I have missed them. The screen is fairly small on this huge colossal of a stage and it doesn’t take away all the focus from the band, as it has sometimes back in the days. In front of the screen the light installation they’ve had during the European tour is still up, and it makes up for a nice interplay between the two every once in a while.

After the pop-couplet The Night Believer/Beach, Johan Wohlert takes the microphone and tells the audience that he is very happy that he’s not wearing his glasses this evening, as this must be the largest crowd Mew has ever played for. From the front pit it is impossible to get a real sense, but with a capacity for 80.000 people it is only the last concert at the same stage (without Johan) that has a chance of competing with it.

The middle section with She Came Home For Christmas, Snow Brigade and She Spider prove that Frengers is still the album that most Danish people hold dear. In the intro of Snow Brigade new live guitarist Mads Wegner proves that he’s a worthy live stand-in. In general he does a fair job trying to make me forget that Bo is not there. It’s not an easy job to have – difficult, difficult, different.

Sometimes Life Isn’t Easy is probably the song that I least expected to hear this night, but it brings shivers down all of my spine when Jonas gives his great power falsettoes “No, don’t cry for me / Celebrate el sueño”. Another surprise is Making Friends a couple of songs later. It suffers a bit sound wise, but it has absolutely beautiful visuals that seemed like someone else than Jonas Bjerre made them – or else he has shifted his animation style quite a bit.

Then a dream is fulfilled. Rows live! Lots of fans had eagerly wanted to see this song played live since they first streamed +- on various websites earlier this year. I feel very fortunate to get to experience the début of this song. Some wondered whether they could really pull off the ending of the song live. I feel very fortunate to get to experience that THEY CAN. It is an epic, and proved to be so live as well. People seem numb in the pit. There’s a great focus on the band, but very few sing along to this one. No one dares to jump. This is a moment of awe. A band that acquired a tool box of epic tricks during the last 20 years, that all comes to display live at once. We even get Jonas-styled animations in the final part of the song. Then they leave me speechless and exit the stage.

For a while some people are getting very nervous around me. Are they not playing Comforting Sounds? They do. I’m not sure that they would get out of the festival grounds alive without playing it. Personally Comforting Sounds has done less for me in the last couple of years than it used to, but this night, just around 3am, it does feel necessary. 10 years and 2 days earlier at the very same festival I experienced Mew for the first time live. As I stand alone in the pit, I wonder where the hell did that decade go…? While I was moved to tears by the song back then, I never understood that the purity the 12-year-old me possessed is exactly what the song is about losing. I’m glad I’m standing alone in the audience this evening. I probably know some 100+ people there I could have watched this concert with, but I don’t feel like it. “Nothing is pure anymore but solitude” as Bo Madsen quietly ends his Africa Express jam the next day.

Text: Frederik Voss


May 28

Live: Melkweg


Amsterdam, Netherlands (May 23, 2015)

As if we lived out in nature, the venue that is Melkweg is surrounded by water of the canals in Amsterdam. This venue proves to be one of the very best I’ve seen Mew in. Melkweg has a bigger (The Max) and a smaller (Oude Zaal) concert hall and Mew plays in the latter. Tonight is sold out. Oh see them fast, take off at last – no time for support acts this evening. The place is filled when Silas Graae walks onto stage. After a rather different setlist the night before in Paris, I’m certain Mew are back to the ways of what seems to be the preferred songs for this tour. It’s a bit of shame, but I don’t care at the same time.

I experience something very rare tonight. Silas seemed to drop his drumstick during a song, but if there’s a glitch, he always makes it work anyway and not many people seem to notice. It reminds me of a gig in Denmark – Slagelse Open Air, July 1, 2006 to be precise – where Silas’ bass drum pedal fucked him, and it resulted in a thrilling alternative 156 chorus played on toms. These small mistakes have become loved small tales that many frengers love to speak about. In essence they are good stories, because they are so rare. Another favourite of mine was that time when Jonas Bjerre stopped after having made his way through one verse and chorus of Snowflake (The first show in Operaen, Denmark, 28 November 2010) just to find out he was singing in the wrong key.

Something happened in the dark this evening. The audience is quite electric. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not going back to the hundreds of screaming teenagers in front of the stage in mid-2000s, this is an audience that has grown alongside Mew for the last decade or two, but the appreciation is there and more so than I felt it in Manchester or London. Whether he is playing the audience or not I can’t tell, but it does feel genuine when Johan Wohlert says “London was great. Paris was fucking great. But you guys are off the hook!”

The few troubles for me this evening are the same old. Could you foresee a day, they might not play Am I Wry? No and 156 in succession etc.? Jonas’ voice did start to bear a slight mark of the heavy touring, but three does certainly feel like the lucky number of the concerts I’ve seen this time. Besides the audience response, the stage has the perfect dimensions for Mew’s new light setup. It covers all of the black stage and resembles the Satellites video experience very much. It’s more central. And colourful. It’s the way you want to see Mew without the animated visuals.

For such a long time I didn’t know if I’d be surprised this evening, but as Mew leaves stage after the medley, I look through the setlist. I’m actually uncertain what they’ll play next. My Complications has already been played. Perhaps Hawaii or Eight Flew Over, One Was Destroyed then? Bo Madsen says that they probably do not play the next song as often as they should, and that the song was written while he was on vacation. That must be Hawaii then, I think, and yet they manage to pull the carpet from under me. The song is She Came Home For Christmas. I’m not sure when they played it in its full band version last time, but I can’t remember watching it since that before mentioned concert in Slagelse in 2006. A real surprise to find it on the set list. Now the lights are off, and it’s time to finish up the concert with Comforting Sounds and by the time it’s over I’m happy again. For a while.

It gets me thinking a bit later. It annoys me that I won’t be going back through all those old memories by Jonas’ command of the microphone again for a while. I’m in a car headed back to the apartment of a frenger that once again lets me stay on her couch besides being the reason I was in Melkweg at the first place. How many people my age has a vast network across the world with couches and lovely people to stay with? I feel fortunate, and at the same time I don’t want it to be over for now. It can’t be! And so I’ll just sit here listening to the drums of the missing Rows until Roskilde Festival.

(Bet: They will play Rows for the first time ever with a live marimba player in front of the 60.000 on the Orange Stage. You heard it here first!)

Text: Frederik Voss
Photos: Kim Vermeer
Photo Gallery

Setlist: Melkweg
Witness / Satellites / Special / The Zookeeper’s Boy / The Night Believer / Beach / Silas the Magic Car / My Complications / Snowbrigade / She Spider / Water Slides / Am I Wry? No / 156 / Apocalypso / Saviours of Jazz Ballet / Medley (Clinging to a Bad Dream / The Zookeeper’s Boy / Louise Louisa) — She Came Home For Christmas / Comforting Sounds


Manchester, UK (May 19, 2015)

I was told a great anecdote by some fellow Mew fans last night. About a decade ago or so Mew played a concert in a smaller northern UK venue. They must have felt like the tour had become a bit repetitive at that point, because they opted to shake things up heavily. That night they played their whole setlist in reverse order making Comforting Sounds the opener for the first and last time ever, I’m sure. After the show the fans met the band and jokingly told Mew that they should perhaps play the songs backwards as well next time. The answer felt promptly: “Don’t even joke about it. We might just be doing that in the future.”

That story is the one I should have been telling people in Liverpool, when I was trying to justify exactly why I – a Danish person – would travel to Manchester, London and Amsterdam to see a Danish band that I have already seen a dozen times. Sometimes I do wonder whether it is too much, but then I find great excuses like last night’s concert being the first time I’ve seen Mew abroad. It’s a first! I’m not being repetitive here, hurrah.

The Ritz is not sold out. Empty balconies but a reasonably crowded floor in a quite nice looking dark venue. It has been 6 years since they played in Manchester last time. They walk onto stage to the backing track of Making Friends‘ intro. Silas punishes the hi hat and snare for the new live intro of Witness. It shall be no secret that it is not quite my favourite song off +-, but I enjoy it more than I thought I would. It is delivered like it is supposed to be a sonic punch in the stomach. They seem to be in a good mood, hence I am in a good mood.

As Satellites begins I start paying attention to the new visual set-up (wait, what’s that? A first!). I had long been waiting to see how it would work out live. I feel like I know why Mew stopped using the visuals. It makes up for more flexible setlists and them functioning as a rock band that deserves attention. Especially the flexible setlists I would choose any day over the visuals. Then again it did feel a bit visually underwhelming back in November, when they were just a band on a stage. It’s not that they can’t be that, but my mind will always crave stimuli ad libitum when I listen to this band. With the new visual installation known from Satellites music video, I think they’ve settled nicely in between poles.


Last time I reviewed a Mew gig I compared watching Mew live these days with a lottery. I would like to withdraw that comparison. At The Ritz the setlist feels carefully balanced and weighted. There’s no sign of randomness as with a lottery. Frengers, Kites, No More Stories and +- all get treated with respect, and the sequencing of songs seems natural. Special, The Zookeeper’s Boy, The Night Believer (that’s another first!), Beach. Sweet sounds of pop. Silas the Magic Car is the highlight of the gig for me. It’s delivered with punch and energy but retains its intimacy somehow. If only more bands could achieve that.

With Snow Brigade, She Spider, Wry/156, Apocalypso/Saviours in the latter half of the setlist the intimacy is put on hold, and they are back to using the audiences mid-regions as sonic punching bags. The new medley reminds quite a lot of the one they played in November, but The Seething Rain has been substituted with Louise Louisa. Zookeeper elicits a nice sing along from the audience and mimicking the end of Kites, Jonas leaves stage with the words “Stay with me / don’t want to be alone”.

This is not a night for feeling alone though and Mew plays My Complications and Comforting Sounds as encore. I finally make up my mind during My Complications. That final Young Mary vocal melody is the best on +- and one of the finest Mew has ever written. Just after the end of Comforting Sounds I hear some subtle backtrack synth chord progression in the background. I couldn’t quite figure out what it was due to guitar feedback and audience noise , but it might have been a bit from Rows. This is the thing though. I need to hear Mew perform Rows so badly that I might have been making this up out of sheer want.

The best first for me this evening is not Mew’s endeavour though. It’s finally putting face on some of those people, whom I first had contact with more than 10 years ago – because of Mew. These people are undeniably the biggest reason why I’m willing to put myself in debt through student loans just to get questionable sleep on a couch and be stuck on buses for endless hours with a headache while writing this. Just like Mew at The Ritz, these people who love Mew, never disappoint me.

Text and photo: Frederik Voss

Setlist: The Ritz
Making Friends Intro / Witness (w/ drum intro) / Satellites / Special / The Zookeeper’s Boy / The Night Believer / Beach (Extended) / Silas the Magic Car / Snow Brigade / She Spider / Water Slides / Am I Wry? No / 156 / Apocalypso / Saviours of Jazz Ballet / Medley (Clinging to a Bad Dream, The Zookeeper’s Boy, Louise Louisa) —– My Complications / Comforting Sounds



From the very first moment I heard My Complications live at Vanguard Festival in the summer of 2014, I knew it’d be one of my favourite songs off the new album. Granted, the dynamic-less Russell Lissack riff felt (and still feels!) a bit forced, but I have no problem coping with it. The pace of the song is one Mew does not operate within too often. In fact, it only brings to mind Apocalypso and Snow Brigade off the top of my head – two songs that themselves bear resemblance in their frantic drumming by Silas Graae, the most evil guitar sound Bo Madsen dares to use, while still claiming they make pop music besides their wintery, dark lyrics. My Complications were none of those. Without being a happy-go-lucky song, it still had an amazing, uplifting energy. A mood equivalent to the Modest Mouse lyrics “don’t worry we’ll all float on” perhaps, I thought.

Fast forward: “+ -” is out. My Complications didn’t disappoint me the slightest bit. Some fans initially missed the “Zookeeper-esque” choir ending of the November tour, but personally I had never quite heard Mew sound like that catchy synth/acoustic guitar coda before. I’m pretty certain that the sound of that final bit is precisely what made Pitchfork remark on the similarities to Young Turks. Mew stated before the album release that they had worked with more key changes and less “counting” this time around. This is exactly what they do on My Complications and the thrill of the key change from minor in verse to major in chorus is partly what gives rise to that feeling of water all around, yet floating on. And then the greatest aspect of the song revealed itself. There was an explanation for that weird but extremely catchy final melody – the way the “We could not / I wish that” couplet was being sung, so unnatural but exciting. We had it all backwards. Again.

Where New Terrain / Nervous was quite an exhilarating experiment of pop music, the reversible production took away some focus of the beauty of a melody that works either way. With My Complications the backwards melody is now on its own competing on par with all the other melodies. Western Silver Lion Cub works as its own reversible production track but also as a key for My Complications in terms of work process, melody and lyrics. Mew has previously given melodies and lyrics, or works-in-progress if you must, their own lives as b-sides (Animals of Many Kinds, In Time Do You Forget (Daydream) and I’d count Do You Love It? as well), but it has never felt as significant as this time.

There’s another reason why I instantly liked My Complications. It’s naïve and even better it’s the naïvete of youth. Despite being mostly past-tense, there are enough indications across the lyrics of the two songs indicating youth:

“You looked so tiny then”
“Young Mary”

Western Silver Lion Cub:

“Out at night on your skateboard”
“Even when I thought you were grown”
“Walk out of this / My youth”

And of course my favourite and most pinpointing of them all “»Soon« is the song of our ages”. This cannot and must not be anything but a reference to My Bloody Valentine‘s song Soon first released on the EP Glider in 1990. The teenage years of a certain songwriter.

It does not only feel like a song about youth though. I’m certain this is a song about the hardships of a first failed relationship. That first girl or boy that first introduced you to love. It’s hard admitting this person was never the right one for whatever reasons, as they become a lifelong symbols of love.

A connection to the Mary (Maria) of Vaccine was speculated in the MewX review of “+ -“. I think this is spot on, and there are more interesting connections than just the name. Bear in mind the following will be hopelessly over-interpretative, but I can’t help it this time. Hospitals, vaccines, coughing, medicine, drugs and poison. There’s an obsession with Mary and eyes: the clouded retinas, looking to her mother’s eyes, still in her mind’s eye.

In the darkest moments of My Complications and Vaccine there seem to be a similar admittance to wronging Mary as well:

“Until no longer gullible
No longer loveable
And colourful
As colourful as you”

“And me – the worst kind of person
A person can be
Some prize!
But through your eyes I’m a wholly different size”

And then there’s that harmful way young Mary listens to singing words:

“Takes my voice in
Lets the poison sing”

“Slowly searched the arch-less singing words”

And then there’s the difference of the two. Where he feels like new again in the world’s arms, “she has no wish for arms”. Maybe this Mary, or belle, in Western Silver Lion Cub is the same belle of the ball from Symmetry? Another song of young love that just didn’t pan out.

The final lyrics of My Complications seemed rather abstract and I kept looking at until I stumbled upon its Western Silver Lion Cub reversed lyrics that are straightforward and revealing – acting precisely as the key and pinpointing the complication:

“And you know I will be missing you terribly”

Reversable lyrics:

Western Silver Lion Cub My Complications
And you know I will be
Missing you terribly
Even when I thought you were
But it’s hard when you go
To get up, leaving home
Even when I thought you were 
Oh and now we cough, young Mary
Wanna be part of this
Are they the drugs we know?
Now we cough, young Mary
Keep the right medicine
We could not
I wish that

I miss that naïve first love and will keep longing for it, but in reality it’s much more complicated than those teenage years suggested.

Frederik Voss
Image source: “+ -” digital booklet

Nov 20

Live: Posten

Odense, Denmark (November 18th, 2014)


Going to a Mew concert these days has become much like participating in a lottery. They have started shuffling the songs of the setlists quite a bit. They have a back catalogue big enough to pull it off as well. When you leave out a single like Introducing Palace Players entirely off a Nordic tour, despite it being voted as the best single ever to be in heavy rotation at the biggest Danish radio channel P3, then you know you have a heavy arsenal of songs. Back to my lottery analogy…

I have never been lucky when it comes to gambling, and after seeing the whopping 123-minute setlist of the Tavastia gig I knew I probably wasn’t going to hit the jackpot this time around. I did not exactly hit it at Pumpehuset on November 13th, but I did have one more ticket left in the lottery: The final show of the tour at the 800 capacity venue Posten in Odense.

When we arrived 20 minutes before the doors opened (There was a highway accident, okay?) some 30 people were standing in line to get in. This seemed less intense than what I’d experienced at Pumpehuset a few days earlier, but I was not that surprised. After all this last gig was one of the few not to sell out on the tour.

The venue itself was broader than deep, which makes everyone seem close to the band. The venue, supported by the local brewery Albani, had no less than 3 beer stalls in the concert room besides a bigger bar in the entrance. I have never seen such an impressive amount of beer stalls per square meter. The best thing about this venue was the sound though, which I noticed as soon as they went on stage at 8 PM.

Without saying a single word they started playing Coffee Break as they did for most of the tour. At Posten as well as Pumpehuset this was one of my favorite things of the entire shows for more reasons. It is one of the songs from Triumph that immediately highlighted the more sombre side of Jonas Bjerre’s song writing, and the way he displays his big vocal register neatly aligned to the general development of the song is subtle but very powerful even today. The same could be said of the Bo Madsen’s guitar playing. The real thrill of listening to this song live in 2014 is that the live production sounds better than the recorded version. It made me think that Mew will never sound anything more like Cocteau Twins than they have done on this tour while playing Coffee Break (and that is a compliment!).

Then they played Satellites, which has become a more upbeat and rhythmically-varied song since they first played it in Bremen in the summer of 2012. During Snow Brigade Jonas would leave some of the singing in the chorus to the audience, which put a smile on his face. She Spider followed quickly after, and it was apparent that the audience of Posten would respond most positively to Frengers-era songs. A thing that made Johan Wohlert (and me!) giggle during this song was how much Nick Watts would move around stage with his guitar. It was a rare but enjoyable sight.

As also mentioned earlier here on MewX it seems the choices of venues have been taken for a trip down memory lane for Mew themselves. This was also the case when Johan would tell the audience that they had once slept in sleeping bags just above the stage, when they were on tour with the Danish alternative music programme on P3 Det elektriske barometer 15 years ago.

I have always been mesmerized by Silas Graae’s work on the snare drum bathed in reverb in the second verse of White Lips Kissed while Jonas reaches the very top of his register. This moment ended up being quite comical at Pumpehuset, when the reverb effect was exaggerated so badly that it stood out from the rest of the sound. This was absolutely no problem at Posten, where the reverb effect was perfect and I’d again get lost in the whiplashing snare effort of Silas.


This night the old, much debated Wry/156-combo was back on the menu, which was exactly one of the big lottery questions this time around. Many Frengers will agree that they don’t need to have it anymore, and that it is very predictable that 156 will follow, when you hear the first notes of Am I Wry? No. I am one of those. What we geeky (yes, deal with it) Mew fans forget is that not everybody in the +500 crowds has watched Mew more than 10 times, which was to be seen by the crowd’s reaction at Posten as well. If I was one of the guys in Mew, Am I Wry? No would surely be one of the songs I’d always enjoy playing, besides it might be the very pinnacle of Mew. It is the one song I’d say describes Mew best at least.

In general I think Mew played more tight and better at Posten than Pumpehuset, so in terms of a musical experience Posten was my favorite of the two. At Posten on the other hand there was very little talking and interaction with the crowd, which is a thing I think is needed, when they took out the visuals and thereby the total experience a Mew gig used to be. As Johan did say in one of the few speeches of the show, they were all very tired from the touring at this point. It could be seen, though they clearly enjoyed themselves on the stage anyway.

In the last part of the gig before the encore most of the new songs were played. Tonight these songs were Waterslides, Medley, My Complications and Cross The River On Your Own (besides Satellites in the beginning of the show) leaving out Making Friends, Witness and Boy of what has been played of new material so far. Waterslides is the one most people will highlight due to its very catchy pop melody, but the two I enjoy the most are definitely My Complications and Cross The River On Your Own. The former of the two has evolved a bit since it was first played at Northside Festival this summer, now ending with a glorious sing along that brings to mind to the ending of The Zookeeper’s Boy. The way this song evolves into something entirely different than what it starts out to be, while still maintaining the idea of being a pop song – nobody does that as well as Mew. Cross The River On Your Own is not a pop song. It lets Mew work with dynamics going from intimately quiet with Bo’s guitar figure as the main attraction to one of those bombastic moments where it feels like Jonas cries his heart out, as we know it from White Lips Kissed and Cartoons and Macrame Wounds. After they finished Grizzly, as it is titled on the setlist, they went off stage, making the audience stomp the ground and cheering much more insistently for them to come back than had been the case at Pumpehuset. They did and finished off with the trio of Special/Zookeeper/Comforting which was the closer of all the Danish gigs on this tour.

The Mew tour is now over and as usual I’m left with a Mew implosion. The concerts, the Frengers, all the nostalgic memories of my teenage years and growing up once again stop having an outlet for some time – luckily we know Mew will be out with a new album soon (soon in Mew terms of course), and I will see them again at Roskilde Festival – hopefully with new visuals as the rumour has it.

Finally I’d like to wrap up my analogy. Did I win the jackpot of the Mew lottery at Posten? Well, no. I did not get to see Panda or Eight Flew Over. But it does not matter. What is so great about the Mew lottery is that it has no real losers, only less-winners.


Text: Frederik Voss
Photos: Lizethe Rivera

Setlist: Posten
Coffee Break / Satellites / Snow Brigade / She Spider / White Lips Kissed / Am I Wry? No / 156 / Waterslides / Apocalypso / Saviours of Jazz Ballet / Medley / Symmetry / Beach / My Complications / Hawaii / Cross The River On Your Own — Special / The Zookeeper’s Boy / Comforting Sounds


Mew has announced a big Nordic tour in November, while declaring they will play songs from the new album that is expected to be out in 2015. This article will take you through the planned tour step-by-step.

Tavastia (Helsinki, Finland) – 05 November

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Mew kicks off the November tour furthest away from home, but in a country where they have always been more than welcome – Finland. As already reported here on MewX, they will be playing in the legendary 700-capacity venue Tavastia. The venue opened back in 1970 and has previously had acts such as Tom Waits and Nick Cave – besides Mew themselves.

Tickets were on sale this morning and sold out in about 2 minutes. It will be interesting to see if Mew will add another show before this date, now that the Finns have made it clear that there was a huge demand for tickets.

Tavastia website

Debaser Medis (Stockholm, Sweden) – 07 November

Photo credit: Natalia Urbanska

The first of the two Swedish shows is in the capital Stockholm. The most popular scene for popular music, Debaser, houses 3 different venues there. Debaser Medis, where Mew will play, is the biggest one of them with a capacity of 850, making it the biggest of the Nordic tour. This is kind of surprising as it is no secret that Sweden has always been Mew’s weak spot in Scandinavia.

Mew has played at Debaser before, but it has been a decade since then, as it was when they released Frengers in 2003.

Tickets go on sale on Thursday here.
Debaser Medis website

Pustervik (Gothenburg, Sweden) – 08 November

Photo credit:

Mew will be in Gothenburg to play at the venue Pustervik on a Saturday. Traditionally a theatre, the venue has only been doing concerts for around 10 years. It is reasonable to think they will be playing at the venue’s biggest stage, Stora Klubben, which has a capacity of 750 people.

While Mew has visited Gothenburg several times before, playing at Pustervik will be a first for them.

Tickets will be sold here.
Pustervik website

Vulkan Arena (Oslo, Norway) – 09 November

Photo credit: Tove Lauluten

From there, Mew will go North to visit the Norwegian frengers. The last half-decade Norway has been Mew’s second home it seems, as they have been playing a lot of concerts there – this time is no exception.

The first of two Norwegian shows will be in the Norwegian city partly built by a person who figures in Mew’s universe. King Christian IV of Denmark moved, built, and gave name to the city once known as Cristiania. Today it’s called Oslo and is the capital of Norway.

Vulkan itself is a creative and cultural area with shops, schools, a South European-inspired food hall, restaurants and more. Mew will be playing at Vulkan Arena and probably at the mainstage, which has room for 600 people in the audience. Even though Mew have played in Norway more than a dozen times, they have never visited this venue.

Tickets will go on sale on Thursday here.
Vulkan Arena website

Ole Bull Scene (Bergen, Norway) – 10 November

Photo credit: Rune Johansen

In Bergen, Mew will reach their most Northern as well as Western point of their Nordic tour for their second Norwegian show. They will be playing at the Ole Bull Scene, which is named after the famous Norwegian classical violinist and composer. This will be a revisit as they also played here on their No More Stories tour. It’s the biggest private music scene in Bergen with a capacity for 700 standing people.

After this gig, Mew will recharge their batteries for two days before the first Danish gig. One could speculate about the possibility of an added gig on the 11th or 12th of November.

The venue Tickets will go on sale on Thursday here.
Ole Bull Scene website

Pumpehuset (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 13 November

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Mew will (a bit surprisingly) be playing Pumpehuset in Copenhagen. This is surprising for two reasons. Copenhagen is of course the city Mew has played the most times, as it is their home town. As far as we know, they have never played here before though. The second reason is that it (along with Vulkan Arena in Oslo) will be the smallest venue on this tour with its capacity of 600 people.

That being said, we know why Mew might want to play here. The venue is very central just a few minutes’ walk from central station. Pumpehuset is a historical building dating back to 1858. It was used as a water supply station at first, but in 1987 it went through its first major change and was opened as a concert venue. It was renovated again in 2011 and now has two scenes. The sound is good and the concert hall looks very nice with an old wooden interior.

Tickets go on sale Thursday here.
Pumpehuset website

Train (Aarhus, Denmark) – 14 November

Photo credit: Wikimedia

The second stop on the Danish part of Mew’s 2014 Nordic tour will be in Aarhus, where they have just played. The second biggest city in Denmark has a venue called Train with room for 850 standing people. This is likewise not a venue Mew has played as far as we know, as they have usually been playing Voxhall and Aarhus Congress Center.

Train is a relatively new venue that opened in 1998, and has since become popular in Aarhus. It is a regional venue meaning that the Danish Government supports it with around 1.6 million Danish kroner per year (2013 figures). This money helps the venue book some nice acts, such as Mew.

Tickets go on sale Thursday here.
Train website

Fermaten (Herning, Denmark) – 15 November

Photo credit:

The third leg of the Danish trip is, without doubt, the biggest surprise of this tour. You would have been really good at guessing, if you guessed that Mew would go to Herning to play. With a population just below 50,000 people, and being only the 11th biggest city in Denmark, this came as a big surprise to us. Even though the city isn’t that big, Herning is placed very centrally in Jutland and will probably draw a lot of people around from the nearby cities.

Fermaten has room for 720 standing people in the audience and likewise is supported as a regional venue giving them around 1.65 million Danish kroner extra in the budget per year. With this one it’s almost needless to say that Mew hasn’t played there before.

Tickets will be available Thursday here.
Fermaten website

Skråen, Nordkraft (Aalborg, Denmark) – 17 November

Photo credit: Visit Aalborg

There’s another one-day gap in-between the concert at Fermaten before they play in Aalborg.

Skråen is a 650-capacity venue which is part of the larger building of Nordkraft in 3rd biggest city in Denmark, Aalborg. Skråen is run by a local music society that has been arranging concerts since 1978. It makes it one of the oldest music societies in Denmark. Earlier they held their concerts in another venue, but these days it’s only in Skråen. Nordkraft (directly translated into North Power) is an old power plant, that has been turned into a culture house.

Tickets go on sale Thursday here.
Skråen website

Posten (Odense, Denmark) – 18 November

Photo credit: KND

Mew will end their Nordic tour in the main city of the island of Fyn. Posten first opened as a venue under the name of Rytmeposten in 1985. The building was originally used for parcel packing, which explains the name the post. Back in 2000 Mew actually played at Rytmeposten along with Sigur Rós to promote Half the World Is Watching Me. After that, the venue outgrew itself and closed for 15 months in 2006-2007 to make the building bigger. Today it has room for 800 guests.

Tickets go on sale Thursday as the other Danish gigs at 10am here.
Posten website

In Summary

The late fall Nordic tour definitely has some surprises. It seems that Mew have played safe cards during the first part of it. They could easily have filled up bigger places, but it seems they prioritize playing venues that give a more intimate feeling, and where the sound can be controlled better. Maybe they also want to try out venues they haven’t played before, which was more difficult to do when they had to satisfy their label. These days Mew get to decide themselves.

It’s also surprising that they are actually playing five concerts in Denmark within six days. The last time something like this happened was in 2003. In May, they played three shows in Voxhall, Aarhus, and two in Store Vega in Copenhagen in just five days.

If you’re interested in checking out Mew’s past tours, check out our tour section.

Text: Frederik Voss