Coming to the capital after the worst storm in 30 years, Trupa Trupa appeared to take the challenges of being on tour in the midst of such meteorological mayhem in their stride. “So good to be in London after two years of hell,” said Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, the singer of the band, from Gdansk in Poland, which took elements of progressive rock, punk and the avant-garde and infused them with a sense of humour.
“Thank you Francis Bacon, William Blake … and Trupa Trupa,” said Kwiatkowski, honouring Britain’s artistic heritage while slotting his own band into the canon. After building up the tension by coming on one by one, with drummer Tomek Pawluczuk holding down a beat before being joined by the bassist Wojtek Juchniewicz, then Rafal Wojczal on keyboards and a guitar made out of an old oil can, and finally Kwiatkowski, Trupa Trupa made a sound that was as melodic as it was intense, a collision between the sweetness of the Beatles and the surge of Public Image Limited. And Kwiatkowski, with his short hair and pressed shirt, came across as a jollier version of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, jerking about in excitement. Trupa Trupa are using their music to confront some of the darkest aspects of Polish life. Uniforms, from their new album, B Flat A, addresses the country’s lurch towards authoritarianism, while a song called Never Forget takes on the realities of Poland under Nazism, when Kwiatkowski’s grandfather was a prisoner in Gdansk’s Stutthof concentration camp. In 2015 Kwiatkowski was walking with a friend in a forest outside Gdansk when they uncovered some abandoned shoes; it turned out that half a million shoes from concentration camps across Europe had been collected at Stutthof to be converted into leather goods. Not that any of this stopped the band’s concert from being anything less than great fun. The whole thing sounded, while referencing styles from the West, totally original. “London is a bit different because of Brexit, sorry to say,” Kwiatkowski concluded, “but the spirit of London is bigger than politics.” The music of Trupa Trupa, a danceable confrontation of humanity’s most brutal tendencies, was bigger than politics too.”