barbarossa is warm-up for slow club
barbarossa and slow club at village underground - london

Live Music : Barbarossa and Slow Club – Village Underground, London (13th May 2014)

After the success of 2013’s impressive ‘Bloodlines’ LP I was keen to see Mr James Mathé (aka Barbarossa) in the flesh. A man surrounded by more electronic equipment than a PC World shop assistant this one-man show didn’t disappoint.

The baseball capped, softly spoken artist took to the Village Underground stage and delved into not only the aforementioned album but music from the upcoming ‘Elevator’ EP. His quite unique vocals and beautiful rhythmic music surprised many who had ‘turned up early’ for the main act. He performed like a man in his own bubble, unaware that we are there; he could have been playing in his own front room such was his concentration and attention to detail. It provided a real feeling of intimacy and the tracks I’d heard so many times via headphones, or in my local pub and coffee shops sounded even more glorious, and personal.

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There were no dancing girls, over the top lighting and nor where there backing singers or additional musicians. This was an extremely accomplished artist showing what he has ‘in his bag’.

“Pagliaccio” was the highlight of the set, and I watched the gentlemen next to me pull out his phone to ‘Shazam’ it. “Great track” he exclaimed to his girlfriend. The set finished with very impressive ‘The Load’ and a feeling contentment washed over me.

Sheffield’s Slow Club (the full band) took to the stage to showcase new material from the forthcoming ‘Complete Surrender’ LP. Messrs Watson and Taylor surprised all as the folk-rock and indie-pop was replaced by a more soulful genre. The “twee” moniker which they were once branded with was replaced by vocals of the highest order and a musical wash of Detroit city. There were flashes of Wilson Picket and early Motown harmonies that up until now had been absent from previous releases.

New tracks ‘Tears of Joy’ and ‘Complete Surrender’ were given and early airing and the response to each was extremely positive. But it was other newbies ‘The Queen’s Nose’ and ‘Number One’ which seemed to gain the most favour. All already felt like old favourites such was the quality of the song-writing.

The show was streamed live for those less fortunate than us ticket holders. Those who ‘tuned-in’ (crikey that sounds so 1970’s) would have been impressed with what was on show. It’s common knowledge that the band are famous for their live performances but it never ceases to amaze me how much energy each of them puts in. The instrument swaps, vocal interchanges and general stage busy-ness look exhausting but such is their enthusiasm you always come away knowing it was money well spent.

Old classic’s ‘Beginners’, ‘If We’re Still Alive’ were as usual impressive and the band rounded off the evening with the beautiful ‘Hackney Marsh’ and crowd favourite ‘Two Cousins’.

Everyone should experience Slow Club live. It’s an education in how a band should perform and interact with an audience. New LP ‘Complete Surrender’ is out on 14th July 2014.

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