Photos by Neil Van.
Denmark artist Nanna Øland Fabricius brought her Oh Land outfit to Toronto’s Lee’s Palace last week, delighting her audience with a set full of well-received pop sensibilities. Her and her bewigged three-piece backing band were quick to woo the crowd and show off Fabricius’ flare for the dramatics. Second song “Perfection” – the lead track from the heralded 2011 self-titled sophomore album – was deep in reverberating vocal effect and accompanying electronic and percussive elements, Fabricius making good use of the stage as she danced and twirled around.
“Toronto, I’m so, so happy to be here,” she told the crowd early in the set. “It’s been such a weird day, but I can just say: I love this city. It’s weirdly familiar.”
Her music, too, can be cast in a similar light. It’s familiar thanks to its pop leanings, but it’s still exploratory and interesting. To her credit as well, Fabricius is intensely likeable as an on-stage persona – coming across like a Disney princess there to turn the mundane into a fully choreographed musical.
“Head Up High”, from Oh Land’s fourth and most recent album – 2014’s Earth Sick – was quirky and immediately transfixing, sounding like what you’d imagine Robyn covering Cut Copy might achieve. “Cherry on Top”, meanwhile, was a grandiose ballad that swelled thanks to a receptive (but by no means sold out) audience.
Her set was undoubtedly helped by the fact that she herself was having a lot of fun with it: interacting with the crowd and even laughing her way through a particularly vigorous chorus on “Rainbow”. Perhaps the only downfall of the night was during “Earth Sick”. The song saw two of her backing band members leave the stage, lending it a more minimalist atmosphere. It wasn’t bad, but the emotional depth felt just this side of empty – not quite connecting with the crowd in a way a song like that should and can. That said, it was but a slight misstep in an otherwise sterling offering of pop numbers.
With the success of artists such as Sia, it’s hard not to think Oh Land will pick up steam and eventually get propelled into the popular, mainstream airwaves. Singles like 2013’s “Renaissance Girls” and 2010’s stomping “Sun of a Gun” point to her abilities to craft a really big, catchy sound. She’s a likely pop star and, as the set at Lee’s Palace proved, Oh Land is a project worth paying attention to.