Live: Slow Club @ ICA, London

It’s not often that you arrive at the venue and see the band you’ve come to see walking just a few steps ahead, guitars strapped on and using the same doors as you to get in.
OK, so I’ve arrived pretty late  (“as per usual”, my friends will tell you) but Charles and Rebecca, better known as Slow Club, start their headline ICA show standing at the back of the hall, from where they launch into an acoustic, unamplified version of ‘Wild Blue Mile’, with their fans circled in reverential silence around them.
From then on, they race through a more conventional set, just the two of them up on stage making a lovely racket with guitar, drums, voices and some occasional kick-ass whistling.
They dispatch current single ‘It Doesn’t Have to Be Beautiful’ with confident ease; however endearingly self-deprecating they may be, there’s no getting away from the fact that these kids can play. In fact, these days Charles’ is rattling out chiming licks that another Sheffield hero, Richard Hawley, would be proud of, and there’s no denying that Rebecca is the new Moe Tucker.
Although they aren’t doing anything especially new, or wildly original – ‘Summer Shakedown’ is pure Tilly and the Wall shouty joy – they’re having so much fun making and sharing their music it’s infectious.
Rebecca’s solo song, about her love for playing drums, is a surprise twist and gets the biggest cheer of the evening. When not screaming, she’s got a big proper voice, which is a little bit Laura Marling, while lyrics about wanting to see the new Tim Burton movie are just a little bit Emmy.
Ten songs in and they end with a loud, brash ‘Trophy Room’’. But then, just as folks are starting to head off, they re-appear for an ‘in the round’ encore, playing a gorgeous unplugged version of ‘Christmas TV’, featuring most of the audience on hushed backing vocals.
It’s a measure of how good Slow Club are that they don’t even play some of their best songs – ‘Let’s Fall Back in Love’ and ‘Dance to the Morning Light’ – yet it’s still great! Their genuine surprise at selling out the ICA is also completely charming. They’re gonna have to get used to it.

Words: Joe Downie