Hooverphonic continues to be one of the most eclectic and versatile groups on the planet. Hailing from Belgium, the core duo of the group, Alex Callier and Raymond Geerts, are the essence of cool as they blend elements of electropop, jazz, rock, and of course trip-hop.
When I heard that the group would be playing only one UK show in London at the Islington Assembly Hall, I jumped at the chance to see them. The last time I saw a Hooverphonic show was in support of the band’s 2000 masterpiece The Magnificent Tree. Geike Arnaert was the vocalist on this record as well as on the previous record, the critically acclaimed Blue Wonder Powder Milk, and she complimented the sonic landscapes of Callier and Geerts perfectly. I would argue that she had one of the best voices in the electronica scene at this time and it was incredible to watch the band evolve and explore new territory.
Fast forward to 2018 and Hooverphonic returns with new music and a new vocalist, Luka Cruysberghs. Cruysberghs was the winner of Belgium’s The Voice contest, which she won in 2017 alongside coach Alex Callier. While it might sound like a leap of faith to trust a reality TV show winner as the frontwoman and voice of the band with such large shoes to fill, she’s off to a great start. This would be a trial by fire in front of a sold-out London crowd.
Her voice is stellar, and she nailed Hooverphonic classics such as “2 Wicky,” “Inhaler,” and the crossover smash “Mad About You,” but there was an element of maturity that might have been missing based on the experience and confidence of the previous singers. That said, I do like the mystique she brings to the group, and it will be interesting to see how she grows and makes the role her own.
If that weren’t enough of a surprise, to start the show the band would also share some new music with the capacity crowd. “Romantic” is the latest single from the band, and it’s brilliant. It brings the best of the classic Hooverphonic sound into a new era with an element of being a pop crossover hit. It’s one of those songs that’s so unique, radio will likely have no idea what to do with it. But based on the buzz around the recent shows, the band seem completely re-energized, and this track could be the one to remind their fans of how much these electronic pop pioneers still have to offer.