Hot Chip – live at Newcastle, 20/10/2006

It’s one of those bands. You hear wonders about them, check out some songs, get very excited, and lose interest a week later. Hot Chip’s electronica-heavy indie (indietronica?) is original and hip enough to gain them a place in the standard MySpace music list, and perhaps even a few underlines here and there. However, partly thanks to their public being irritatingly pouting, polka-dot-clad and fifteen, and partly because of electronica’s inherent live-music quality, they soon start to grow flat on CD. But live. Live. For one thing, they work on the visual appeal of the show – the five band members are lined up and evenly spaced, Kraftwerk-style, and geometric constellations of neon lights dance on the screen in the background. The band is suitably quirky in dress, the clothing highlight being the singer’s glow-in-the-dark neon green emo glasses. The music, aptly distorted here, lengthened there and tweaked here, is faster, more majestic and alive than on record. They also play some new material – it is excellent, with deeper and darker synths that nod to Depeche Mode, vocal experimentation, and maracas. They take their ‘joy of repetition’ to a new, blissfully demented high (‘colours and colours and colours and colours…’), and even cover Marvin Gaye. The one fault I found was that the singer’s voice doesn’t lose its nasal and Moby-esque sound live. But they redeem themselves from that, too. Comparisons to New Order had already been spinning around my head since the start of the show, so when they unexpectedly plunged into ‘Temptation’, I was suddenly in the Hacienda, in Manchester, in 1983. At that precise instant, the audience, split between skinny-jeans-wearing indie kids and beer-guzzling chanting hooligans, all gave in to their inner raver and danced as if there would be no tomorrow. Forget indie, new rave is here.

Kathryn Bromwich

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