Slow Club - Ruby Lounge, Manchester - 22/9/11

19 Oct 2011

“Slow Club is usually just comprised of Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor but for this tour, showcasing their second album Paradise, they're joined by two new members...”

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One of the beautiful things about seeing live music seeing how a band work together as a unit.  After x many shows playing together they’re usually fit together perfectly, feeding off each other’s energy and working together to play a fantastic show.  Apart from the occasional anomaly (I’m thinking a Caleb Followill style breakdown) the longer the band’s been playing together, the stronger this connection is. 

Slow Club is usually just comprised of Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor but for this tour, showcasing their second album Paradise, they're joined by two new members. While this added to the strength of sound, it at first felt like it had thrown the chemistry of the duo a bit. The show opened with 'Where I'm Waking', a belter of song that quickly established their stage presence, but something about it didn’t feel quite together. Taylor's normally beautiful voice was replaced by slightly uncomfortable shouting and she didn’t seem to have her heart in it, a feeling that lessened but still resonated during 'Our Most Brilliant Friends'.  Her normal vivacity took a while to kick in, she warned  the crowd "I will smack you in the face if you talk" which caused a slightly nervous giggle to pass through the audience.

'Horses Jumping' marked a turning point. A beautiful song, very delicately performed made the gig feel all the more intimate and when the backing band return for 'If We're Still Alive' there's a much more relaxed feel from the stage which feeds back to the crowd. It basically only got better from there. 'I Was Unconscious It Was A Dream' was beautifully performed, completely stripped back and retained all of the charm it had on Yeah, So. 'Beginners' showcased one of the best moments on Paradise, a definite step up in terms of maturity from their debut record, while the unexpected addition of a saxophone on 'Hackney Marsh' proved a wonderful high point.

By the time it came to 'Giving Up On Love' it had been a mixed bag but this proved a huge sing a long moment and left the audience gagging for more when they engaged in the ridiculous ritual of leaving the stage for a few minutes before coming back on to play a couple more songs. They opened the encore with the first single from their new album, 'Two Cousins'. It was clear how much Taylor had relaxed as she gave herself over completely to the performance.  She kind of transformed in to Cousin It from The Addams Family with her hair completely covering her face as she threw herself around the stage.

However, this change in mood could not prepare me for their closer which was simply breathtaking. The pair came to the front of the stage, in front of their mics, and proceeded to play 'Christmas TV' completely acoustically. It felt like an incredibly special moment with complete quiet from those watching, intent on hearing what was going on over the noise from the bar. For the first half of the song there were people in the audience self consciously whispering the words along, not wanting to be heard in the near silence but soon enough people lost their inhibitions and the whole audience was belting out the words for all they were worth, something that clearly touched the performers on the stage. After a shaky start I left having been reminded of why live music can be so special - I'm just not sure it's a coincidence that all the best moments of the night were songs from their first album. This isn't due to the quality of the songs, Paradise has some wonderful tracks on it, but because of the chemistry between the pair on those old tunes.

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