Live | Slow Club @ Village Underground, London

Slow ClubOver recent months Sheffield duo Slow Club’s latest single, ‘Complete Surrender’ has had copious radio play and is as catchy as can be, so it’s no surprise that the intimate, no-frills Village Underground fills quickly, even before tonight’s support act hits the stage.

Barbarossa opens to a slightly chatty audience, but his smoky electronic organ sounds manage to grab their attention swiftly. The room becomes immersed in bass with his soulful voice melting in, along with the cleverest use of reverb and the loop pedal we’ve seen for a long time – and let’s face it, there’s a lot around these days.

Slow Club come out to a packed, buzzing room; understandably so since it’s their only London gig in the run-up to the release of their new album, Complete Surrender on 14th July. They open – complete with backing singers – with the new single and title track of the album, which is greeted with glee like a fun new friend. The glee’s reflected in the band’s performance, as they appear to be having a ball immediately. They follow with an old friend, ‘If We’re Still Alive’, the pop-folk favourite from 2011 album Paradise, and it’s clear from the crowd’s uproarious reaction that they are not  simply here due to the band’s recent radio popularity. Rebecca Taylor and Charles Watson dance and skip around what small stage space they have and their fun is infectious. It’s been an uplifting start.

Things wind down for a while with some new tracks, the dreamy ‘Tears of Joy’ followed by ‘The Queen’s Nose’, a bluesy ballad delivered by Taylor with incredibly moving intensity. Despite the gig’s poppy opening, Slow Club prove they are capable of being ferociously loud, and it sounds good. The rest of the set is a great balance of new tracks along with plenty of familiar oldies that the crowd lap up. A highlight of the new songs has to be ‘Suffering Me, Suffering You’, with a bluesy and bassy intro that later kicks in to a bouncy Motown-esque tune with vocals from Taylor which sound as though she could be in The Supremes.

Taylor and Watson flit comfortably between instruments, swapping vocals, guitar and keyboards amongst themselves as well as with their band, Rob Jones on bass and Avvon Chambers on drums. They manage to move between what Taylor describes as ‘quiet ones’ and ‘fun ones’ with ease – the tempo shifts so often that it could be jarring – but Slow Club move from energy-filled elation to sultry ballads and back up again like a multi-coloured slinky of joy.

Tonight’s gig has been a blast for both the audience and the band, that much is clear. More live dates are to follow, as well as, of course, the album. The new material showcased is diverse and exciting, promising that Slow Club’s fan-base is likely to significantly swell this summer.  And swell it should.

Jules Foreman

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