It seems a shame that, as of quite recently, talk of Norwegian artist Aurora has lent itself toward *that*John Lewis advert and her cover of ‘Half The World Away’.
Her previously released tracks such as ‘Conqueror’ and ‘Running With The Wolves’ are strong enough that a venue the size of the Deaf Institute should have sold out very quickly. But, the fact of the matter is that, it didn’t; and within 24 hours of the Oasis cover blaring out of TV’s all across the United Kingdom, it did.
Of course, Aurora’s selection of available songs is pretty small and may be one reason as to why the show hadn’t sold out before the ad went live (although she has racked up over 30 million streams on Spotify). As of this gig in Manchester she has released one EP and a couple of singles. Her debut album All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend, released on March 11th, will almost double the material that she has available.
And it was tracks from the upcoming record that dominated the set. Her band arrived on stage first and began playing one of those upcoming tracks. Aurora followed soon after, wide eyed and extremely animated with her hands. “Being Norwegian you don’t expect to come to Manchester and get all this love”, she said at the track’s conclusion.
The people in attendance (the warriors and weirdo’s as Aurora refers to them) remained static throughout the opening few numbers, transfixed by her strange movements. ‘Runaway’ led to the first comedic moment of the night, having to be stopped due to the keyboard player going too slowly. A fact that the drummer joyously pointed out.
As the show went on, it became clearer that Aurora has got that weirdness about her that seems to resonate with people. Like Bjork, she is undeniably strange within her performance and her lyrics, but you can’t help but root for her. Her between-song chatter about making a new friend on her first visit to Manchester, a half deflated red balloon which she decided to name Manchester, provided laughs. On the other side, one track notably opened with the lyrics “Under the water we can’t breathe. Under the water we die“. Your traditional pop star, she isn’t.
An acoustic rendition of Murder Song helped demonstrate what a great voice she has and also led into ‘Running With The Wolves’, a track that finally broke the crowd’s transfixed gaze and led to some movement. It was followed by another favourite, ‘Conqueror’, which also happened to be the last track of the set. The band gathered at the front of the stage and bowed, soaking up the huge amount of applause that was aimed in their direction, before departing the stage. Aurora dashing back on after forgetting to pick up ‘Manchester’.
A few moments passed before the five piece returned to the stage. Another new track was played first, containing some rather impressive four-piece harmonies. “We were gonna leave the stage now but thought we’d take this opportunity to honour a beautiful man”, Aurora proclaimed as the rest of the band left the stage. Her final song of the night, a heartfelt tribute to the David Bowie track ‘Life on Mars’.
The early parts of this review were written before the announcement of the October tour that Aurora will be embarking on. The shows will see her jump from the smaller venues toward ones that hold 1,500-2,000. On the showing that took place at The Deaf Institute, it seems that it’s only a small matter of time until the rooms get bigger again. All of this without having to perform *that* song live, too.