It is, if you think about it, remarkable how speedily someone can garner a fanbase these days. Thanks to the various channels of connectivity that we now possess, a band can, like London Grammar, go from students who jam occasionally to selling out venues in the space of a year.
But their homecoming show at the Electric - after a stint touring around the US - puts this fact in plain sight. Particularly at the bar, where it takes about twenty minutes to get a pint. But the stress of trying to squeeze into a free spot without unintentionally entering a wet t-shirt contest washes away as soon as Hannah Reid, Dot Major and Dan Rothman break into an immaculate rendition of ‘Hey Now’. Illuminated by a bright yellow spotlight, Reid’s unwavering tones transfix a crowd on the cusp of getting Friday-rowdy.
It’s certainly more of a ‘concert’ than a ‘gig’ - a world away from the sweaty, charged events that the Electric no doubt sees most nights. It almost feels like your phone should be on silent, while you gaze up at the stage, watching without comment to the person beside you. This is something that Hannah addresses in-between tracks. “We love our American fans but they always tend to whoop and yell really loudly in the quiet moments of our songs... I’m trying to concentrate here!” she jokes.
When Clash interviewed the group as one of our Next Wave artists, Hannah confessed to suffering from severe stage fright. “I still have it really really badly”, she told us. “Our first show was so bad, I couldn’t imagine my life carrying on afterwards. It was really extreme.” The tour seems to have proven remedial for the band, whose stage presence is warm, and they take the time to chat to the audience in-between songs. Dan relates an anecdote about being recognised for the first time at a show of theirs - “it never happens to me. Even at my own gigs!”
His minimal guitar-work along with bongo tapping from Dot provide the ideal backdrop to Reid’s syrupy vocals, as the band straddle the waters between indie and danceable synth-pop with ease, building up to the latter with the rhythmic ‘Metal and Dust’ closing the show. Their cover of Kavinsky’s ‘Nightcall’, taken from their debut LP, and of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ are further highlights, along with the haunting and feverishly-received “Wasting My Young Years”. It’s not your average gig in Brixton, and surely a far cry away from the vibe going off at Rudimental down the road at the Academy. But the formula works - here, at least. Maybe stick to London, London Grammar.
Words: Felicity Martin