Jaakko Eino Kalevi and band, at The Lexington

Jaakko Eino Kalevi, Jorja Chalmers and friends (28 Jan 2020)

The wonderful thing about living in London is that, eventually, the name of a band or act you have not been necessarily desperate to see but certainly curious about will appear, one day, in the listings. Jaakko Eino Kalevi is one such name, and one that is not easy to forget, as he triumphantly returned to The Lexington, a stage he had graced already back in 2013.

A side view of the stage: Jaakko Eino Kalevi and band

Jaakko is a long-haired former tram-driver from Helsinki with a large number of albums to his name. Last night he was accompanied on stage by a very competent female bass guitar who also helped with vocals, as well as new drummer Janis. It was perhaps the glamorous Australian saxophonist Jorja Chalmers (formerly of Roxy Music) who really stole the show, playing along on seven of the 13 tracks that we heard last night, having already entertained the sell-out crowd earlier on in the evening.

Jorja Chalmers, playing with Jaakko Eino Kalevi

Dream-pop, psych-pop, indie electronica… there’s a lot of ways to describe Jaakko’s music, yet none of them really define it perfectly. Last night we mainly heard tracks from his latest album Dissolution; in fact, with the exception of the first track on said album, we believe we heard every single other song from this release. Fortunately, it is a fine piece of work, and “I Am Looking Forward” was one of the first tracks that really grabbed our attention in last night’s set. Unfortunately, Jorja does not accompany them on this particular tune, but it really is quite funky and it was getting very hard to move around in the packed venue with all the happy punters bouncing around.

Jaakko Eino Kalevi and his band at The Lexington, with Jorja Chalmers on sax

Next came “Emotions in Motion”, which appeared on the 2018 album Out of Touch and was certainly much more psychedelic than the songs that had preceded it. Jaakko’s high voice was a beautiful mix of Sébastien Tellier and David Bowie; Jorja, back from her short break, really went jazzy on this one. Here is the official video, courtesy of the Domino Recording Company.

We were less keen on the following two tracks, namely the two-part Conceptual Mediterranean songs. Jaakko decided to play them out of order (they were originally on different albums anyway). Part 2 was a bit Vangelis-lite; one could imagine it appearing in a scene from Blade Runner. Both were a little on the cheesy side for our taste.

Jorja Chalmers with Jaakko Eino Kalevi and his band

Fortunately, it wasn’t long before they played the fantastic “Dissolution” which, as you will have guessed, appears on the aforementioned album of the same name. On stage, Jaakko used a voice modulator for some of the lyrics which gave a real retro feel to the track, if it were not already dripping with retroness. A quite wacky video appeared on YouTube three months ago which was fresh in our memories. This song probably got the biggest cheer of the night, and we leave you with the official video here:

Following a couple more tracks off Dissolution, the band left the stage, though everyone knew they would be back. Surely they were not solely going to play tracks from the two most recent albums? After all, this is a man with almost a dozen albums to his name. People started shouting out “Macho”. This was not a sarcastic comment on our lanky Finn’s physique which was anything but. It was the name of a track from his 2010 album Modern Life, and he duly obliged.

Jaakko Eino Kalevi sings into the microphone

They finished off with one other track from Modern Life, called “Flexible Heart”, which curiously reminded us in parts of a pared-down version of some of Hera Björk’s “Je ne sais quoi”, which coincidentally also came out in 2010. A great tune to end on, and probably not one people were expecting to hear. Although the sound where we were standing was not great, we did our best to record this final tune for posterity.

All in all, it was a fabulous night, albeit a little too over-crowded to the extent that it became nigh impossible for the bar staff to remove empty glasses, which would vibrate everywhere to the bass and synths. All the more reason to invite Jaakko and his quirky band back to this town soon, and perhaps even to a larger venue. We’re sure he will have another album to promote soon. He seems to churn one out every year. Hopefully, when he does, “Dissolution” remains part of the repertoire. That’s one hell of a cracking number.

Jaakko Eino Kalevi merchandising
The merch
A punter wants to buy a Jaakko Eino Kalevi T-shirt
A punter requests one of the Jaakko Eino Kalevi T-shirts at the merch stall (above)
Punters crammed into The Lexington to see Jaakko Eino Kalevi. Close-up on sound engineer
The Lexington was insanely busy last night; the only person with any room to move around was the sound engineer!