When a band has been on the block for 15 years, it’s rare that they still produce material that is fresh and relevant. Both established veterans and contemporary pioneers of the indie-electro scene, Hot Chip captivated their fans at the Corn Exchange this week with a creative and intelligent set that offered up the best of six albums worth of material. Unashamedly nerdy and as keen as ever to express their varied musical influences, they proposed a night of alternative synthpop that was sensitive, fun, and always engaging.
Hyperactive Brit School graduate GEoRGiA provided support, and largely impressed with her feisty percussive pop and distinctive main of swirling curls. The highlight of the 21 year old’s set, ‘Nothing Solutions’, is an anthematic electronic whine, influenced as much by Kate Bush as the fury of garage and grime.
Emerging from a smoky haze of blue stage lights and dreamy looping synths, lead singer and keyboardist Alexis Taylor ushered the seven piece straight into pulsing opener Huarache Lights, from the soul-licked 2015 album Why Make Sense?. Dressed in his characteristic white lab coat and Bunsen burner-friendly specs, Taylor is that geeky older brother who is somehow super cool; himself a Jesus graduate, it was a sort-of-homecoming for the London band who gigged with various line ups around Cambridge colleges in the early 2000s.
And threw a party and a half for the packed Exchange crowd. Dipping into a brimming back catalogue of hit singles and lesser known gems, the band offered a technical masterclass in handling a complex technical set-up whilst bringing enough musical originality to live renditions to excite even their oldest fans. A punctuated and robotic Day and Night followed the glorious singalong that is One Life Stand, whilst band and audience alike grooved out to Flutes, the flirtiest piece of synthpop this side of the 80s. Soulful Need You Now is the best of more recent releases and fitted well with older material; its simple, club friendly sample from French artist Sinnamon slotting perfectly alongside the band’s vocal harmonies.
The whole set was electric, with each track transitioning to the next in a euphoric mix that never took itself too seriously. The band’s consistent energy onstage is infectious and iconic hits Ready for the Floor, I Feel Better and Over and Over sounded as urgent as ever and were met with huge cheers and – I noticed - many questionable attempts at the robot from middle aged white men who should probably know better.
“Tonight, Matthew, I am going to be Bruce Springsteen”, Taylor announced through a robotic vocal setting and slipped into the final track of the night, an unexpected and gorgeous cover of Dancing in the Dark. Daring to not give a fuck about the pretention that litters electronic music and surely one of the finest live acts in the game, Hot Chip have a creative boner that isn’t going anywhere fast.
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