Gig review: Lukas Graham at O2 Academy Leeds

'I need you to sing with me, O2 Academy Leeds,' pronounces Lukas Forchhammer over the ebullient, crashing piano chords of Taking the World by Storm.

Lukas Graham

The first song hasn’t even got going properly yet, but the curly-topped vocalist who lends his name to the band Lukas Graham is already in animated form, stridently bouncing from one side of the stage to the other with a pendulum-like regularity.

He’s a peppy dynamo that never stops moving; a sparky presence that goes hand in hand with the sunny MOR pop they serve up, bereft of the Scandinavian noir found in, say, a-ha.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Superstars in their homeland of Denmark for half a decade, Lukas Graham’s international breakthrough is more recent in the memory; as such, this is their first visit to Yorkshire. Their effervescent, brassy sound is indebted to the British rock canon though; Don’t You Worry ’Bout Me leans on the neo-soul of Amy Winehouse none too gently, and the horn-flecked beat blues of Ordinary Things reads like a modern reincarnation of the Spencer Davis Group.

Yet Forchhammer and company – bassist Magnus Larsson, drummer Mark Falgren and keyboardist Morten Ristorp, complimented by a three-piece horn section – are compelling entertainers too, and refreshingly unfiltered; the frontman downs a bottle of lager mid-song during the jaunty Drunk in the Morning and swears up a storm before a poignant What Happened to Perfect.

He is aided by some fantastic vocal chops; though the material rarely calls for acrobatics, he nails every note with a slick ease. To further quicken the pulse of his female fans, he strips himself to the waist alongside Larsson roughly halfway through and his vocal on the RHCP-indebted Nice Guy is drowned out by lusty screams.

The hits are saved mostly for the home straight; the Hard Knock Life-sampling hip-hop of Mama Said, the rapid-fire handclap-hooks of Strip No More, the plaintive longing of Happy Home. When they return for an encore, it’s the jazzy Funeral that impresses, refreshingly old-school and nostalgic.

But anticipation has built to a crescendo for their closer; and when the twinkling into of mega hit 7 Years echoes forth, it sparks one last round of delirious swooning.

“We’re gonna come back to Leeds really soon, I promise!” hollers Forchhammer, body glistening under bright lights as he leads the bows. It seems unlikely that too many of his fans present will be adverse to a speedy return.