Friday, 29 February 2008

LIVE REVIEW: Hot Chip - Glasgow Barralands, 26 March

The pre-gig prominence of glowsticks and grinding jowls suggests the buzz resonating round the Barralands tonight may not be entirely down to the anticipation of some scintillating Hot Chip action. And, with DiS struggling to stave off the incessant, and slightly amorous, advances of a saucer-eyed, shell-suit wearing 40-somethin’, there’s a strange, nostril burning whiff of a Gatecrasher jamboree about the occasion when those electro-pop mongrels take to the stage.

But, really, is such intoxicated reverence necessary for a group like this? C’mon, Hot Chip are hardly beat bulging behemoths of club-land. Aye, new album Made In The Dark may be a spasmodic trampoline of bleeps and grooves and ‘Over And Over’ was, undoubtedly, an infectious dancehall ready rhythm but much of their output is laden with slivers of down-trodden electronica more suited to the valium-necking comedown of daybreak than this, the sweat reeking pit of the Barras’ ballroom.

Or so I thought.

Y’see, tonight Hot Chip are ravenous; a frenzy of strobes, basslines and buoyancy. The slouchy synth-plays of ‘Coming On Strong’ and ‘The Warning’ rarely raise their reticent pusses during a set built almost entirely on the new LP’s radio-friendly floor-bulgers. If you're here to catch the funk-quirked intricacies of ‘Down With Prince’ or ‘Crap Kraft Dinner’ you’d no doubt be sorely, sorely disappointed. However if - like the harem of 16-year-old girls ricocheting off punters with the screeching velocity of discordant pinballs - you came for a limb-flinging, dancefloor inferno, well, by fuck did you get it.

In all honesty, this DiSser has perhaps grown a little elongated gnasher-wise for such non-stop disco-riddled shenanigans but, when ‘Shake Your Fist’ and ‘One Pure Thought’ come hurtling towards you like the spear of some deranged African tribesman, it’s almost impossible to contain those aching, creaking joints in this gilt of dizzy percussion and warping keys. ‘Over And Over’ is, of course, what many of tonight’s masses are here for and the band duly oblige mid-set. Yet, caught between ‘Hold On’’s sveltely-dressed psycho bleepery and the contorted rhythms of ‘Don’t Dance’ it feels strangely diluted, as if a thousand plays has waned the power of its virulent, rolling bass and unifying chorus. Not that those bug-eyed fiends down front noticed, so engrossed in approximating the size of cardboard boxes and sea-dwelling vertebrates were they.

Hot Chip have never had the presence of a truly awe-inspiring live act, always too immersed in their techy-eyed-tronica to bother with the effort of having to actually entertain aesthetically. But in Made In The Dark’s less instrumentally entangled numbers the quintet are able to cut-loose, with Alexis Taylor bouncing child-like across the stage during the futuristic scuzz-fest of ‘Bendable Poseable’. However, the propensity to meander is still prevalent - particularly during the yawnsome ‘In The Privacy Of Our Love’ and heel-traipsing R ‘n’ B snuggler ‘Wrestlers’ – and, as the eruptive shock of the set’s pummelling cuts begins to diminish, the night eventually fritters into humdrum, mid-‘90s techno nonsense; fine for a retrospective visit down memory lane but not exactly on the razor-slashing edge of modernism.

Once the lights go up and the crowd disperses, DiS catches a glimpse of its pill-popping admirer scuffling shakily towards the doors. Sweat soaked and not quite as twinkle-toed as before, he’s a shadow of his former self: dazed, dishevelled and a little disappointed. As strange as it may be, a straight-laced DiS knows exactly how he feels.


Photo-snap taken by Loraine Ross

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