So, apparently, last night’s crowd at King’s Cross’ Scala was Chairlift’s largest headlining audience to date. And the band has certainly come a long way since their first London gig at Mile End’s intimate The Victoria in November 2008, as is evident from the packed house of enthusiastic fans they played to last night and the progression of their sound from first album, “Does You Inspire You”, to this year’s release, “Something”, cuts from which dominated the show’s setlist.
Remember the olden days of iPod bands that managed to pave their ways into the mainstream’s consciousness through the synching of a song to an Apple promo vid? Well, the two Brooklyners may have started out in that manner with the fairly ubiquitous Bruises, but they have the goods to back up the suggestion that they have much more to offer.
It’s interesting to compare Chairlift’s two-piece suite of Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly to The Ting Tings, another girl and boy duo who enjoyed success with an iPod commercial. Whilst the latter act’s subsequent releases showed diminishing returns in terms of quality and their second album was so bad it magically disappeared before it even came out, Chairlift seem to have upped the ante with their latest release, which has been reflected in the universally positive reception given to “Something” (incidentally, the album was recorded almost entirely here in London).
What is remarkable about the direction of the songs we heard last night is that many of them would not be out of place on the opening credits to a 1980s movie starring Martha Plimpton. They’re that good. From the uproarious first number, “Sidewalk Safari” (which also opens the record), through album highlights such as “Wrong Opinion”, “Take It Out On Me” and “Guilty As Charged”, the twosome (alongside three additional live band members), efficiently and very watchably served a short sharp shock of musical excellence. And it was indeed short. They were on stage and then off again within an hour, showcasing their best work with almost no stinkers and avoiding outstaying their welcome. The crowd even got a surprise piñata to play with before the arrival of the last song of the set.
The show’s top moment came half-way through, in the form of new single, Met Before. You could feel the room contract with elation at the charged and faithful-to-the-album-version rendition given to the track on stage. Disappointingly, on fan-favourite previous single, “Amanaemonesia”, which was the final encore, the performance sounded bereft of oomph, with Wimberly’s backing vocals completely getting lost. Mind you, even this slight quibble on the set-closer front can’t change the fact that you’re unlikely to win your argument if you suggest that this was anything less than a Very Good Show.
To make it up to ourselves for said quibble, let’s all watch the – frankly, stupendously brilliant – video for “Amanaemonesia”.