Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
Slow Club and Air Waves at The Rivoli in Toronto
Frank YangIt’s said that for bands seeking exposure, television is the new radio as far as reaching a mass audience is concerned. Sheffield’s Slow Club can probably speak a little to that, having done pretty well as far as advert and show soundtracking goes. Not having cable or watch much/any broadcast TV, I had no idea about this – I found the duo the old fashioned way by having their 2009 debut Yeah So show up in my mailbox – but it did explain why instead of finding The Rivoli a quarter-full with Anglophiles on Sunday night for their Toronto debut, it was instead jammed full with Chuck fans.
Geting taken on tour with a more popular band is also a good way to garner new fans, so Air Waves lucked out there. But getting put in front of an audience is only half of it – you still have to win them over, and on that count the Brookyln quartet didn’t do so well. Frontwoman Nicole Schneit started things off solo and her fumbled guitarwork and off-key singing set the tone for the rest of their show. Bringing on the rest of the band helped mask those shortcomings to a degree, but if you cared about things like melodies or being on pitch in your music, it was still pretty poor; the songs themselves might not have been so bad but the delivery was difficult to get past. They have their fans, that much is obvious – the members of Slow Club in the audience were their loudest cheerers and Rebecca Taylor joined them on backing vox for one song – but I simply couldn’t fathom it.
At the other side of the spectrum, Slow Club made the very best of first impressions with Taylor and Charles Watson opening with an acoustic cover of Pulp’s, “Disco 2000” – a bold move but they pulled it off masterfully and then, bringing out the rest of the band, went straight into the rollicking “Where I’m Waking” off second album Paradise. That’s right – they had a band with them. Though they pulled off the duo thing with great aplomb when I saw them at SXSW 2010 and the old-school purist in me would like to bemoan the format change, it’s impossible to argue that the extra hands didn’t really improve things. The guitar-and-drums thing fit the spirit of Yeah So perfectly, but the more fully-rendered Paradise really did need the extra manpower to do justice.
While Watson stuck to guitar and vocal duties and really proved himself the anchor of the group, Taylor was constantly shifting roles – singer, guitarist, second drummer, first drummer – but always the focal point and frontwoman. The hour-long set – the band’s first sellout in North America, Watson was pleased to announced – focused mainly on Paradise material and also previewed a couple of new songs which continued on in the more soulful direction of Paradise and according to Taylor would appear on a forthcoming EP. The band’s more manic folk-rock tendencies from their debut were nodded at via the Paradise singles but their more sophisticated – albeit still energetic – side was primarily on display. Still, it was nice to see it back down to Charles and Rebecca for the encore as they headed into the audience, unamplified as they do, for a lvely reading of “Gold Mountain” before heading back onstage for a rollicking, “Giving Up On Love” to close things out. I had kind of hoped/expected to have their first show here to be a cozier, more intimate affair but hey – a big party was pretty good as well.
Photos: Slow Club, Air Waves @ The Rivoli – February 19, 2012
MP3: Air Waves – “Knockout”
MP3: Air Waves – “Keys”
Video: Slow Club – “If We’re Still Alive”
Video: Slow Club – “Where I’m Waking”
Video: Slow Club – “Two Cousins”
Video: Slow Club – “It Doesn’t Have To Be Beautiful”
Video: Slow Club – “Trophy Room”
Video: Slow Club – “Giving Up On Love”
Video: Slow Club – “Come On Youth”
I thought for sure they’d go for an arena date, but the Florence & The Machine date in support of Ceremonials for Toronto will be August 2 at the Molson Amphitheatre. Update: Tickets are $24.50, $39.50 and $49.50 plus fees, on sale Friday, The Walkmen are opening.
Clock Opera continue to pave the way to the April 9 release of Ways To Forget with videos; there’s a stripped-down performance clip of the current single and four-part “making of” series to watch at their YouTube channel.
Saint Etienne have released a video from their forthcoming album Words And Music By Saint Etienne, due out on May 21; full details on the album were just released and can be read over at The Line Of Best Fit.
Video: Saint Etienne – “Tonight”
NME has excerpted some choice passages from an upcoming feature interview with Noel Gallagher, and amongst other things the former Oasis songwriter says these days he’d rather collaborate with Damon Albarn of Blur than Radiohead.
Know who else is willing to collaborate with Albarn? Graham Coxon. The pair debuted a new Blur song the other night at a War Child benefit show, and while it’s a bit slower/ballad-y than anyone should hope a new Blur record would be, it’s unequivocally gorgeous. There’s a good quality video of the performance at Consequence Of Sound, NME antes up with a video of the full band doing a run-through of “Tender” before tonight’s appearance at The Brits and Alex James offers some thoughts on Blur as an ongoing proposition at The Sun. And oh yeah, the band is playing the closing ceremonies for the Olympics, says DIY.
Niki & The Dove’s debut album finally has a title and a release date, at least in Europe. Instinct will be out on May 14 on the eastern side of the Atlantic.