Let me first address the Elephant in the room. Amelia Rivas was clearly suffering from vocal problems during this performance, making frequent trips off stage between songs, hiding her cough behind the microphone stand. It left her crooning rough and grating so it would be unfair of me to judge Elephant on her lyrical performance alone.
The great male/female duos of recent times ( Jack and Meg, Alison and Jamie) have a chemistry when performing that makes you think the other could not exist, create anything artistically, or go on living without the other by their side. They morph, become one sexy musical entity.
There was something lacking between Amelia Rivas and Christian Pinchback, I suspect it’s because they were concentrating on being scenester cool instead of connecting (of course Amelia’s illness could of also been a factor). We are seeing resurgence in duos with Slow Club, The Civil Wars and Summer Camp. All acts are receiving the support of Jools Holland, 6 Music and the music press. Elephant need to find their stride if they are to be placed on the same pedestal. The songs are catchy. I can see they’re trying to achieve Lo-fi French electro pop meets a brunette Blondie. But at points it felt more like the kids from ‘Why Don’t You’ have grown up and had a go at remixing Rentaghost in their Dads garage.
Had the performance been more energised and less about gyrating and pouting around a microphone stand then I may have heard shades of Chicane in tracks Skeleton and Shipwrecked, imagining trippy euphoria in a festival field at 6am.
Chapel Club however are clearly riding high on the critical acclaim they’ve received this year. Think White Lies meets New Order and you end up with dark and brooding indie electro. Tonight’s set saw tracks from Palace & The Wintering EP performed along newer material they claim will not make it onto their follow up album.
Newer material (Burt Reynolds, New Colours) follows the bands quietly confident swagger that they’re executing their sound with shoulders squared and chins jutting out. Chapel Club *know* they’re producing an unrivalled sound hence keeping the momentum on song writing since Palaces was released at the start of the year.
I’ve always heard a scowl and a sneer in their tracks and I’m happy to say that also comes across live. It’s not to be attributed to arrogance, more romantic frustration. Eastern Girls sighs “I’m sold out in every department, got nothing left for the world” and I can picture Lewis Bowman kicking the kerb as the pale skin girls wander back from St Martins and he’s left behind, ignored, abandoned.
Surfacing’s sampling of Dream A Little Dream was unforgivable when it first reached my ears, but there is a charm in being petulant and truculent (Morrissey has dined out on these attributes for years) and seeing it performed live in this way has won me over. However, these two tracks along with Five Trees are their most well-known and strongest. I wonder if they’re trying to pen equally infectious radio friendly tracks and falling just short of the mark.
Let the likes of The Young Knives and We Are Scientists have their quirks and humour. I hope Chapel Club never ever cheer up too much, the brooding works live. The boys in the audience want to appear equally gloomy and the girls were clearly smitten with the unapproachable moodiness.