The promise of being at Hot Chip's last stop on their UK tour followed by an after-party DJ set has had us raring to rave for months and the electro-pop five-piece almost didn't disappoint. The billed support artist grime "grandad" Wiley was a no-show and it's shame that Hot Chip didn't decide to compensate by performing their fabulously soft-core cover of 'Wearing My Rolex'. The Invisible provided a reasonable soft-rock background as people began milling inside and were followed by Max Tundra, a compellingly bizarre electro-pop performer who seemed to be channelling the spirits of Prince, Peter Crouch's robot dance and Dick Van Dyke's one-man-band in Mary Poppins.
Hot Chip's live set for their South London homeland was spot-on. A packed, excited academy was treated to a flurry of enormous pastel balloons, lasers and glittering disco lights. The band reinvigorated their milder studio songs for live performance and the new inclusion of drummer Leo Taylor beefed up the sound brilliantly. Their resolutely geeky appearance merely contributed to the genuine, raucous fun of the performance, which went off like old milk in a crowd with an unexpectedly mature demographic, with barely a Skins-wannabe scenester in sight.
Their characteristic melding of euphoria with frailty, sing-a-long melodies with irresistible beats and inanity with soul created an atmosphere of intimate energy ideal for the academy space. The final mixing of 'In The Privacy Of Our Love' with Prince's 'Nothing Compares to You' cooked the mood to mellow perfection - perhaps too mellow, as most of the crowd dispersed before the DJ set, which was forestalled by face-painted Drums of Death, a fairly wonky choice of act. Whilst we've previously known Hot Chip members to bring off an amazing set of eclectic tunes and inventive mash-ups, this time over-bright lighting, a faltering sound system and a pretty random record progression left things a bit flat-a shame, because the incredible earlier performance had definitely left us 'Ready For The Floor'.
Words & image by Amy Dawson