Hot Chip @ Birmingham Academy, 20/02/2010

February 23, 2010 by  

With this year?s ?One Life Stand? dividing Hot Chip fans and critics alike, it was difficult to predict how their live shows for the album would be received. Jumping straight in with ?Boy from School? a familiar crowd-pleaser that got the place buzzing nicely, it was obvious that Hot Chip would be drawing upon their back catalogue as well as showcasing the new material. Where earlier work could feel a little cold and distant for all its toe-tapping and witty lyrics, ?One Life Stand? is definitely a warmer and more human album and this translated brilliantly to the stage. The band members were on full Technicolor form, Alexis Taylor in a Wham! T-shirt and yellow trousers, Owen Clarke looking sharp in a well-cut suit and everyone bouncing around in all their geeky splendour.

The addition of a live percussionist was inspired, and the use of other live instruments also worked well. Al Doyle?s guitar was beautifully funky, and even with a full, rich compliment of percussion, synths, keyboards, assorted gadgetry and bass, a simple little maraca-shake or hand clap could be heard perfectly. The vocal harmonies were also a highlight, the deeper, richer tones working well against Taylor?s quirky lead. It was during the more stripped-down moments that the talent and musician-ship of Hot Chip became most evident and their ability to play so tightly together was remarkable. It was clear that they were enjoying performing, and they had a real connection with the crowd. Tracks such as ?Alley Cats? and ?Brothers?, rather than acting as dampening lulls in the proceedings, worked as brief but welcome respites to the relentless, can?t-help-but-bounce tunes that came thick and fast, blended DJ-style into each other to keep everyone moving. Very clever and with a delicious build-up of tension, the hits ?Over and Over? and ?Ready for the Floor? were delivered in glorious extended versions that teased and built up slowly before taking off at full speed with hypnotic drums, bluesy guitar and more melodic, soulful vocals than on recorded versions. The addition of steel drums to title track, ?One Life Stand? sent the crowd into meltdown, cementing the track as one of the Hot Chip greats and album closer ?Take It In? was a huge and soaring triumph.

The added dimensions afforded by live instrumentation were the real highlight of an amazing set. The band clearly enjoyed every minute, and their amazing gift for putting on a show allowed the new material to be showcased in the very best light whilst also breathing ever-funky life into the classics.