Chairlift - Live At The Borderline, London

A step up in songcraft
Chairlift - Live At The Borderline, London

My God, it's hard not to go fanboy gooey over Caroline Polachek. The Chairlift singer takes to the stage at a fully loved-up Borderline wide of eye, bare of midriff and slinky of hip. At various junctures in tonight's hour-long set, she'll break out dance moves that can only be described as looking "a bit like rubbish Karate." And I mean that as a compliment.

She also sings like a menthol-breathed angel, of course, as well as playing the castanets, a set of maracas that resemble a Christmas tree and even Cadbury's gorilla-style air drums. Her penchant for percussion reflects the fact that Chairlift live are that bit more rhythmic than on record. Opener 'Sidewalk Safari' is somehow jerkier still, while the power chords of 'Wrong Opinion' cut through their arty synth-pop sound like a knife through softened butter. Live, Polachek and her guitar-toting bandmate Patrick Wimberly are fleshed out to a five-piece - flanked by a bassist, a drummer and a keyboard whiz who can only be described as looking "a bit like the long lost sister of Sophie Ellis-Bextor". I mean that as a compliment too.

Seriously though, Chairlift sound smashing tonight; the step up in songcraft from their 2008 debut, 'Does You Inspire You', to this year's boffo sophomore set, 'Something', means their live set is now chock-full of tunes. Kudos to 'Ghost Tonight', slinkier than a lascivious ballerina, and 'Amanaemonesia', which provides a sing-along finale despite its tricksy title, but the jewel in Chairlift's crown is the rapturous 'Met Before'. Even the band seem taken aback by its catchiness, which presumably explains why they toss it off mid-set, instead of saving it for a potentially orgasmic climax.

Hopefully Chairlift will right this wrong when they return to London for a headline set at The Scala on April 25. That also gives them, ooh, seven weeks to sort the stage prop that their fabulous ‘80s-ish sound could really do with. Anyone got a deal on a dry ice machine?

Words by Nick Levine

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