As they bow out

Tonight’s gig is a poignant affair. Cult band Electrelane are bowing out again. But similar to when they announced an indefinite hiatus in 2007, it feels more like the beginnings of another sabbatical than pipe and slippers time.

Performing live, the all-female four-piece have reached a comfortable plateau as fine musical seamstresses who weave between each other with fluidity. They play a greatest hits set with ease and infectious enjoyment, their four albums each fairly represented.

Lead vocalist Verity Susman, flanked by giant keyboards, performs with now-or-never vigour, wigging-out at any opportunity. Her angelic vocals tiptoe atop the Motorik drumming of Emma Gaze, the sliding guitar strokes of Mia Clarke, and the steadying bass of Ros Murray. Their set straddles both masculine and feminine spheres. Yes, it’s proggy in parts, and undeniably post-punk and Krautrock-influenced, but it’s punctuated with nuances of sweet romanticism.

Several rather indulgent five-minute periods of instrumental squawks are inserted at random, but baroque keys and classical flashes add feminine layers, creating a general body of sound that is intelligent and ferocious. They bound in with three tracks from ‘Axes’, Verity’s vocals warbling like a winter robin on opener ‘Bells’, which crescendos into an electric maelstrom.

Their distinct sound firmly in place, there’s still room for variation. ‘Long Dark’ is underpinned by a ‘Brand New Cadillac’-esque riff. They peak mid-set with the understated chugging melodica of ‘To The East’.

The set clambers to a close. These are potentially the last few minutes we’ll ever see Electrelane perform live again, and don’t they know it. A wall of ear-splitting feedback to rival My Bloody Valentine resonates around the room. There are no rules anymore and this is their chosen send-off. But is this the end? While on ‘Birds’, Verity sings: “It’s not that I can’t go on without you – got a lot of things to do,” you can’t help but hope the future of the band won’t be quite so closed-book.

Words by Natalie Hardwick

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