Something genuinely original, if even only marginally, surfaces rarely in pop and rock. In fact, it can sometimes seem the more bands and singers strive to break new ground, the more they simply appear to be slaves to their influences who they are attempting to better.

Perhaps Herman Dune, coming from continental European and Israeli heritage, are open to influences we in Britain are not aware of. The weight of musical tradition sits heavily on American and British musicians in a way it does not with those outside the Anglo/American axis of pop. Or, perhaps, Herman Dune are just original.

The packed, expectant crowd at the Scala, full of Christmas cheer, certainly seemed to feel they were privy to something special; that great, exclusive feeling when you find a band who are great but obscure and, in all likelihood, will stay that way.

Herman Dune come from that fine practice where all the band members take on the same surname. At the moment I can only think of this tradition in terms of the Walker (Scott, Gary and John) and Ween (Gene and Dean), but I am sure they are legion. Like the Walker Brothers, they even have a member who has departed, namely André Herman Düne.

The remaining two, David-Ivar Herman Düne and Néman Herman Düne are more than capable, along with their idiosyncratic, effervescent band. Lead singer and guitarist, David-Ivar Herman Düne, is not your usual front man. But then pop has been littered with men who at first seemed improbable and then became un-missable. Thin as a rake, with straggly beard hanging down to his vintage guitar, David-Ivar Herman Düne hops around the stage if not like a man possessed, then like a chap with something important on his mind.

Keyboardist Néman Herman Düne is a perfect counterpoint to this, sat side on to the stage, his stage presence is all one long Gallic shrug, though he occasionally cracks a smile at the antics of Néman Herman Düne.

The highlight of the show is without doubt, 'I Wish That I Could See You Soon', the closest the band have come to troubling any charts when Herman Dune seem to be having as much fun as the audience. The song is infectious, inspired by 60s girl bands, with a question and answer chorus between backing singers, pretty near the top of their range, and David-Ivar.

Other notable moments are My Home is Nowehere Without You and the title track from the recent album, 'Next Year in Zion'. Many of the songs are full of pathos; stories of being disappointed and let down. David-Ivar Herman Düne has a lovely habit of referring to himself often in his songs, which again adds to the slightly other worldly aspect of the band. He is also a cracking guitarist and easily holds the stage alone.

Leading lights in the Anti-Folk movement, the band pick unlikely influences, particularly early 60s surf guitar. While they are full of humour, the lasting impression you get after a Herman Dune concert is the fine song writing, brim full of melody and witty lyrics and startlingly good backing band. It may not have been the best concert I saw in 2008, but it was the most fun.











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Commenting On: Scala, London, 17/12/2008 - Herman Dune








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