...a musically zippy and largely danceable set

A sort of homecoming gig this for the recent Clash cover stars, quite a shrewd move when you consider the amount of interest there is in seeing how far Hot Chip cut it live.

When local bars are advertising the later start time (half eleven since you ask) there is a certain sense that a lot of the smartly drilled, quite achingly trendy crowd are likely followers of the band, pretty well acquainted with the bands progressive techno, melodic ambient slants.

Reminding me a little of my old friends Alpinestars, Hot Chip in concert are livelier than you might expect delivering a musically zippy, tight and largely danceable set, mixing old school nods, Eighties flourishes and touches of Paradinas’ style tribalist techno to an arty but far from wanky vibe.

Yet, first up, and seen shoving past me in the guest list queue some ten minutes before went on was the very polite actually and sartorially elegant Matthew Dear of Audion repute. There prior to ten out of some loyalty to support acts to stick them in the review and expecting a set of minimalist techno, both me and Ross Allen were pleasingly impressed at the three piece who came across like a wired techno and reggae influenced Talking Heads / Black Grape hybrid. Nice guy too, shades of Huey Morgan from the FLC’s with a good presence as he struts the stage in front of Hot Chip’s equipment. Overall the whole set’s lively and energetic whilst the gear is sufficiently different to what’s about to possibly make something of. After all, “Hands Up For Detroit” didn’t do too badly.

Onto the main action of the evening and sharing some similar hands to The Chemical Brothers, there’s great curiosity in seeing how Hot Chip do tonight as to upcoming festival dates and the rest of it. Employing a large scale but ultimately more subtle lighting rig than the Chems do, the five piece work the stage effectively, giving the audience something to focus on as they roam in front of their gear and the giant orb designed backdrop from their recent Top Five album from whence most of tonight’s set is culled.

Downstairs is absolutely rammed as they take the stage and as for any chance of getting past the sound desk, forget it. Launching the structured set with the trademarks of their carnival fairground funk techno sound and strong album track “Shake A Fist” whose air of malevolence and offbeat stealthy bleeps aligned to an elegant Yorke-esque vocal cause plenty of shoulder swinging action even before the kickdrum comes in and demolishes the place. Holding the momentum with the festival rock fun and delirious drops of hit, possible signature tune “Boy From School”, the crowd takes the baton and dances with it energetically, causing mayhem in an exceptionally busy downstairs.

The stylish techno groove of “Hold On” follows a bugged in, stylish techno groove, featuring wiry keyboard stabs alongside an up beat 70’s glam rock Bolan / T-Rex riff but this just a hiatus before the next anthem exhausts the auditorium. Little advancing cries of “laid-back” sweeping over the gig floor before the gaff completely erupts to the arch funk line and high throttle drive of “Over And Over”.

Couple of ballad type, Twisted Nerve lo-fi numbers to close the set including the album titled “Made In The Dark’s” ambient country soul and the band reappear for one final rousing livener, “No Fit State”, taken from previous album “The Warning.” Still trying to decide whether there’s an 808 State reference in there somewhere, especially given the Thunderdome dark tribal acid edge to the track. Set all across a stirring Sasha / Holden type progressive groover tinged with funked off, “Out Of Control” acid angles, it makes a dynamic closer to an impressive set.

Hot Chip’s lads did a lot to enhance their live reputation tonight, combining a relentless uptempo opening section to their more downbeat interludes. Sometimes casually derided for their “geeky” dispositions, they were plenty of fun in the bar later and given the amount of studio knowledge techno musicians have had to digest, it has to be admitted that one or two are not always the life and soul of the party. Yet, that observation aside, this was a damn fine evening with a couple of very well executed sets, the latter of which saw them “Boys From School” pretty much graduate and certainly start making their grades.
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