Audio, 8 February 2010, with support from The Hornblower Brothers, Munich and The Lyrebirds
Audio have really been pulling out all the stops line-up wise at the start of 2010. Not content with showcasing some of the year’s most exciting talent in Delphic and These New Puritans in recent weeks, tonight they are offering a recession-busting four bands for a fiver, and there are plenty of takers.
The only downside of this (other than the fact that at least one of the bands are rather poor), is that once the friends, associates and assorted hangers-on of each band have finished cheering their heroes to the rafters, many of them simply head off home. This has a rather disconcerting effect of creating a crowd that has diminished noticeably by the time headliners Chapel Club have arrived.
It’s safe to say Chapel Club are still very much in their infancy. At a time when every musician can find an immediate outlet for every half formed idea or demo they wish to foist on an increasingly picky public, there are only a handful of songs that provoke a flicker of recognition in the crowd. Opener ‘Machine Music’ is one of these, the band radiating urgency and a keen sense of menace as a chugging, propulsive bass riff intersects queasily ascending guitar lines and a vocal that is part tortured croon and part demonic spoken word.
It’s a fine start that showcases the band’s strengths of combining dark, juddering atmospherics with a strong sense of melody and song structure. The recently released ‘Oh Maybe I’ gets an early and well received airing, but some of its Morrissey-meets-My Bloody Valentine charm is lost as the squall and distortion almost completely overwhelm Bowman’s vocals.
It is a situation the band finds themselves in repeatedly throughout the night, and while at times it threatens to turn the entire performance into a fuggy, inarticulate mess, there are moments when it works perfectly. Debut single ‘Surfacing’ for example, finds Bowman alone amidst a maelstrom of clanging industrial noise and piercing, fitful guitar as he stoically mouths the chorus from ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’, the familiar refrain taking on a new, far darker meaning through the juxtaposition. It’s a fine advertisement for the band’s potential, and on tonight’s evidence is just about enough to suggest they can fashion a niche for themselves out of their self-made chaos.
What Did You Think Of The Gig?
Rebecca (left) and Tina (right): Chapel Club, 3/10. Lyrebirds 10/10. “We thought the Lyrebirds were really amazing, but we thought the headliner was a bit boring. I don’t think Chapel Club should be signed. I think Lyrebirds should be signed.”
Rob: 6/10 “Lyrebirds were unoriginal but great anyway, Chapel Club were OK, good musically but no really catchy melodies.”
Mark (with Jess): “I heard about them on 6 Music, they played a couple of tracks and I wanted to see if they had an album out. They haven’t, but I saw this gig was on instead. The lead singer’s got a wicked stage presence, he really captivated the audience.”
Rodiga J Smith: 6/10 “It’s peculiar, the main band we all came to see were good, they started well, a really potent promising start. I was really woken from a slumber, if you will, but unfortunately it just kind of wasted away. The impetus of the first couple of songs was lost, perhaps by the sound quality, perhaps by the fact that they’re not particularly talented, so ultimately I was disappointed. It’s actually a microcosm of this life what we lead, as D H Lawrence said.”
Words by Daniel Pearson
Photography by Marta Vidal Riera