After spending the last two years working hard and gaining a well-deserved following and a dash of hype on the other side of the Atlantic, tonight we see Slow Club back home and in their element. Coming on the back of their sophomore album, Paradise, South Yorkshire’s finest take to the stage as easily and naturally as you would expect a band of their standing to in their own back yard.
Fellow Sheffield trio, and main warm up band, are the terribly monickered Heebie Jeebies. Contrary to name, the band give the audience a blast of their unpretentious and enjoyable indie rock. Rhythmic unpredictability, tight interplay between the trio, and Doherty-esque vocals are a fairly succinct briefing on what they’re all about. While The Heebie Jeebies won’t be winning over those who favour originality or anything within a mile of avant garde, they adequately get the Leadmill going, and standout track ‘Misery Guts’ demonstrates their ability to make something memorably melodic rather than to simply follow the crudest indie conventions that so many bands disappointingly adhere to.
Slow Club come on shortly after to rapturous applause, despite front woman Rebecca Taylor alienating the red half of Sheffield by coming out in a complete Sheffield Wednesday kit. The band launch into their set with abandon, the majority of songs here to promote their new record, but with a generous smattering of oldies in between. But whereas other bands might receive a frosty reception for these tactics, the rapport that the band has with the local fan base means that this in never in danger of happening, helped in no small part by the quality of the new tunes. Despite a distracting rumble of conversation around the edges throughout, and a ridiculously noisy air-con, the more gentle and intricate acoustic numbers retain much of the emotional punch found on Paradise.
This new and adventurous approach by the band is a risky one that pays dividends. They clearly view themselves as a more mature outfit than in 2009, a fact highlighted by their seeming reticence to play some of their signature tunes from Yeah So, ‘When I Go’ being the most notable omission. When a band inevitably veers away from their early style to change their sound, then gigs like this are necessary. Many of the new tracks are far more refined, with an even simpler approach and an emphasis on the vocal qualities of Watson and Taylor. The downside of all this entrancing sparseness on show is that when the band slip back into their noisier indie-rock mode with tracks like closer ‘Giving up on Love’, they can come across as a little jarring in comparison and just stops the audience from falling under their spell. This relatively minor quibble aside, the future looks bright for Slow Club. Given a little time for the new songs to bed in, the next time they play could be an absolute triumph.