Gig review: Hot Chip at Leeds Beckett University
The first rule of musical snobbery is to assume that any band involving a dance routine are doing so to cover up some other failing in their live set.
Certainly it wouldn’t be expected that any such a band would boast a career spanning 15 years, yielding six studio albums, a plethora of spin-off solo projects and a host of production and DJ roles.
So when four members of Hot Chip suddenly break into some preordained moves in the middle of Flutes, it should have been entirely unexpected. Granted it was Dad dancing style bunny hops done in circles in time to the chorus, but it raised a massive and somewhat ironic cheer from the 1,300 capacity audience at The Stage in Leeds Beckett University and spurred on what was already turning out to be yet another solid set from one of the best live bands around.
Four songs earlier the band had walked out and gone straight into one of the finest tunes of 2015, Huarache Lights, first single from latest album Why Make Sense? It’s a song with a pounding bassline and warped synthesisers that does what Hot Chip do best, lift an entire venue with a song of cautious optimism and has lead singer Alexis Taylor finding comfort from lyrics relating to his favourite shoes when DJ’ing in a club, alleviating any concern about his advancing years in the real world.
From there it continued to one of the widely unacknowledged but finest love songs One Life Stand, through an unrelenting set that includes song after song that shake the deepest negativity out of even the most hardened of souls and allow an audience to put aside anything that may be resting heavy on their minds, even if just for a couple of hours. Through the formation dancing of Flutes and race headlong into undoubtedly what is consistently the most eagerly anticipated track of every Hot Chip set, Over and Over, with the crowd joining in singing about monkeys and miniature cymbals.
The musicianship demonstrated by every single member of the band is virtually unparalleled in any other live set currently doing the rounds. Al Doyle spends most of the set contributing slick guitar riffs whilst wildly spinning around dressed in a papal outfit whilst also knocking out a mean steel drum on I Feel Better, one of the set’s major highlights. Felix Martin and Joe Goddard form the electronic basslines that hold the songs together, the latter having developed a frenetic dance move that resembles the classic Worm but done standing up, whilst also pitching in vocal duties. Owen Clarke and long standing contributor Rob Smoughton, who both also switch between keyboards and guitars, make the Hot Chip sound complete with the whole thing held together beautifully by the driving beats of drummer Sarah Jones.
There was room for a brief electronic version of Happy Birthday to a crowd member and for Alexis to inexplicably sing Shake a Fist with a towel covering his head before the set came to a close with Why Make Sense.
The encore comprised 3 early compositions including the evergreen And I Was a Boy from School before closing with recent live mainstay and, as of the following day new single, a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark.
This gig served to further emphasise Hot Chip’s live credentials and maintain their position as one of the must see, bucket list live bands on the circuit. And long should they continue with the dance routines, as a band that can deliver this level of musical performance whilst injecting humour and personality into proceedings is a rare beast indeed.
Gig date: October 18