Bittles‘ Magazine | Live: Slow Club @ Rough Trade East
In their short yet eventful career Sheffield-based band, Slow Club, have moved from folk-rock darlings to disco divas to ›Motown‹-infused soul revivalists. This latest incarnation is given free rein on their excellent third album ›Complete Surrender‹. With the band playing a sold out gig at the ›100 Club‹ later in the evening, tonight represented a chance to hear the new material that makes up the latest LP for the first time. By JOHN BITTLES
›Rough Trade East‹ made an intimate setting for the songs, with the stage so small and cosy that the band had to constantly shuffle awkwardly past each other throughout their fantastic set.
Formed in 2006, Slow Club were quickly picked up by indie mainstay ›Moshi Moshi‹ who released their debut album ›Yeah So‹ in July 2009 to huge critical acclaim. Instantly embraced by the anti-folk scene at the time, ›NME, The Fly‹ and other hipster staples fervently labelled them ‘The next big thing’. Second album ›Paradise‹ meanwhile saw the band approach an almost disco feel with electronic backing accompanying the soft guitars with which they had made their name.
Now third album ›Complete Surrender‹ has just hit the shops and sees the band adopt a lush soul-like air. In regards to playing these songs live Rebecca said in a recent interview with ›London in Stereo‹ that »We know now that an album means two years of your life touring, so you have to make sure you’re going to enjoy playing it every night for fucking ages«. So, the question is how will these brand new songs translate live?
Stepping out to little fanfare, the band perform a short but sweet six song set. Beefed up to a foursome for the live tour the core duo of Rebecca Taylor and Charles Watson are joined on stage by Avvon Chambers on guitar and Guillemots main–man Fyfe Dangerfield on bass. Throughout the set Rebecca alternates guitar or drums depending on the song while Charles duly concentrates on guitar and keyboards. And while this can give a slightly ramshackle air to proceedings as they constantly switch about the small stage between songs, it also lends the set a sweet, lovably naïve feel.
With both full-time members sharing vocal duties the set alternates from lovelorn ballads to Commitments style soul-stompers with such a gleeful air that it’s hard to witness and not be touched. Charles’ falsetto is a bittersweet foil to Rebecca’s more lung-busting vocal range. In fact it is the heavenly voice of the front-woman that is the highlight of a rousing and dynamic set. Soulful, passionate, stirring, and heart-breaking, in a perfect world this woman would be a star.
Once onstage Rebecca greets the audience with »It’s the best day of our lives by the way. You’ll probably get married, but for me this is it. We’re Slow Club, and we’re going to play six songs.« A general theme throughout the show is that the pair’s deadpan onstage banter is genuinely chuckle-some and instantly warms you to them. With its hints of Metronomy, ›Complete Surrender‹ opens the set with a swirl of soul stirrings and a gorgeous vocal turn from Rebecca. Instantly heads start bobbing and a solitary handclap from a lost soul in the audience accompanies the tune.
This is followed by second track ›Not Mine To Love,‹ which gets by far the biggest ovation of the night, mostly due to a stunning vocal performance that has the audience mesmerised throughout. Make no mistake, this girl can sing. And with Fyfe strutting his stuff on bass and Charles giving the show a roguish charm the crowd find themselves well and truly warmed up.
When Rebecca moves behind a drum kit for the next few songs there is an audible sigh of disappointment from the crowd (not just me), but her partner in crime proves himself to be a more than able foil. Charles’ falsetto lends ›Paraguay Panama‹ and ›Everything Is New‹ a heartfelt charm that could make aching souls soar. You could hear a pin drop for these songs such is the intensity of the tune.
›Suffering You, Suffering Me‹ quickly follows, and is a distinct highlight of a too short set. It brings a delicious injection of pace to proceedings and sees Rebecca stepping confidently back to the limelight of centre-stage. ›Wanderer, Wandering‹ finishes the show meanwhile in quietly rousing form, which leaves those lucky enough to have tickets for the later show feeling really quite smug.
And just like that the show finishes, with the band leaving the stage with a bashful wave, while the crowd depart feeling happy and content that they have witnessed a top class show. Considering that the gig was free it is hard to think of a better way to spend a Monday night!