by Joanna Orland
For a relatively unknown name, Owen Pallett has a reputation that precedes him. Owen, who previously went under the name Final Fantasy, is the go to guy for pretty much every good strings arrangement found in music of the last 5 years or so. Owen’s come straight out of the Toronto scene, having worked in some form with the key Canadian music powerhouses including Arcade Fire, The Hidden Cameras, The Stars and even Holy Fuck and Death From Above 1979. And more recently, he’s worked with international artists such as Grizzy Bear, The Rumble Strips, Alex Turner’s side project Last of the Shadow Puppets, Mika (!!??), and The Pet Shop Boys. He is most definitely the IT boy for string arrangements in popular music.
Ditching his solo Final Fantasy moniker, Owen Pallet has just released his latest album Heartland under his own name, and managed to fill up London venue Koko with little effort. Having heard a bit of the album, some of his Final Fantasy work, and a lot of his collaborations, I didn’t quite know what to expect from Owen’s solo gig in London. I don’t think there’s any way I could have figured this one out without seeing it for myself. This man is a musical genius.
In demeanour, he is quiet, polite, youthful in looks (is he really 30??? My guess was 12), and overall pleasant. While featuring the occasional synth part and guest guitarist who also had access to percussion, the bulk of the gig was performed by Owen’s voice, his violin and his loopstation. I was previously unaware that a violin could produce such sound. He used it as bass, percussion, strings, the works. His technical skill between his vocals, violin and rhythmic timing was sensational. Owen Pallett is the most co-ordinated man in show business.
Owen Pallett puts on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. I entered with no expectations and exited feeling very emotional and content. I urge you to see Owen perform live if given the chance. The album is pretty good too, but I don’t think it demonstrates his genius quite as well as seeing the man recreate it all live in front of an audience.