Mike Mantin 01/06/2006
Hot Chip's latest album 'The Warning' surprised almost everybody who listened to it with its denser, more expansive and generally more mature sound. Though this is my first Hot Chip live experience, it seems as though they've applied this to their shows, too. Unsurprisingly given the sheer quality of their latest album, tonight's set draws heavily from it, with even the most successful of debut album 'Coming On Stong''s songs, 'Down With Prince', absent.
With a line-up featuring no drums, only the occasional guitar and no rhythm section save a pair of fruit-shaped marraccas and bongo drums, it makes for a gloriously unconventional live experience. The staticness of the set-up is more than made up for by the band's careful execution juxtaposed with shaky dancing (their moves are seemingly stolen from Thom Yorke). With at least three keyboards being used at any one time, they're able to recreate already-beautiful tracks like 'Boy From School' and 'No Fit State' as lush, room-filling masterpieces while retaining their trademark retro keyboard riffs. In fact, some tracks are almost unrecognisable until those distinctive vocal or keyboard riffs make their entrances.
They deserve to be admired not just for their performances but for their preparation. Every single track tonight has been meticulously crafted (probably in a bedroom) and programmed to perfection. After years of touring, they have a swagger and effortlessness about them which suggests they know what they're doing. The relentless gigging has turned them all into pros, none more so than frontman Alexis Taylor whose high vocals, one of Hot Chip's greatest assets, are recreated perfectly. On the sparser tracks such as 'The Warning', the mood can turn from a rave to an intimate, emotional performance and back again, even if that track does contain the line, "Hot Chip will break your legs".
It ends in style with now-signature tune 'Over And Over' turning the whole venue, not just the enthusiastic and possibly chemical-assisted dancers in the middle, wild. Even the scruffy hipsters at the back can't resist the song's funky staccato lines, pounding beats and lyrical charms. Even at their second album, Hot Chip have turned into a world-beating electronic force and one of the finest dance bands out there. "We can't really break anyone's legs," says hyperactive keyboardist Joe Goddard. Perhaps not, but even if they can't get there by force, their superb live show could soon turn them into geek superstars.