Belleruche – Nottingham Stealth, Thursday October 28.
First things first: Kathrin deBoer’s supremely elegant cocktail frock deserves a special mention. With its high collar, plunging wrap-around bodice, tied belt and A-line skirt, the singer’s black and white polka dot creation was a masterpiece of stitching, which bestowed an air of effortless glamour upon its wearer.
Kathrin’s sartorial classiness was matched by her performance style. She sighed, cooed, purred and swooned her way through Belleruche’s hour-long set, her beaming geniality and understated delivery masking a deft technical precision. In terms of vocal tone, there was something of Roisin Murphy’s silk-cut smokiness about her.
The comparison extended to the music, which positioned the trio as natural descendants of Murphy’s former band Moloko, and their compatriots from the lighter, more tuneful end of mid-Nineties trip-hop.
But if DJ Modest’s funky, low-slung beats and scratches mined familiar territory, guitarist Ricky Fabulous provided the twist, augmenting the template with eclectic flourishes that drew equally from jazz, blues, soul, funk and rock.
The guitarist switched to bass for a cover of The Beat’s 1980 hit Mirror In The Bathroom. Although the original vocal tempo was retained, half-speed beats gave the track a fresh feel. The bass returned for a throbbing and clattering 3 Amp Fuse: one of several tracks from Belleruche’s newly released third album (270 Stories), which was bolstered by sampled cellos from a recent London show.
The set ended with spirited scat singing from deBoer, accelerating to breakneck speed as DJ Modest ramped up the tempo of his beats. Although Stealth’s compact performance space was jam-packed (surprisingly so, for a band which has largely hovered below the popular radar), there was still just enough wiggle room for those who felt like dancing – which, by the end of this assured and immensely likeable performance, was most of us.