Mike Atkinson

Disclosure & Clean Bandit – Nottingham Rescue Rooms, Tuesday March 5

Posted in gigs, LeftLion, Rescue Rooms by Mike A on March 17, 2013

Originally written for LeftLion

Although this was a sold-out show, punters were still thin on the ground as Clean Bandit took to the stage. This didn’t dent the enthusiasm of the six gold-clad performers, whose innate sunniness was a joy to behold. They were a disparate bunch: a hooded keyboardist, a classically trained violinist and cellist, and a troupe of three singers – plucked from a community singing group in Kilburn – who alternated lead vocals.

The diversity of the line-up was reflected in the music, which gleefully plundered genres like a latter-day Basement Jaxx, and with comparable wit and colour. Tracks would sometimes halt for chamber-music breakdowns, which quoted naggingly familiar classical pieces. This worked so well, that you found yourself wondering why nobody had attempted it before.

As it’s still early days, there were a couple of covers: a mash-up of Gangsta’s Paradise and Survivor, and a rousing take on SBTRKT’s Wildfire that seemed to seal Clean Bandit’s popularity in the ever-filling room. Forthcoming single Mozart’s House closed the set. It’s an absolute corker of a track, boosted by a clever, compelling video, which deserves to do well.

For such a mature-sounding act, Disclosure’s youth still comes as a surprise: Guy Lawrence is just into his twenties, and his brother Howard is still in his late teens. A clean-cut pair, with an unaffected, boyish enthusiasm, they stationed themselves at diagonally facing consoles, beneath a custom-made, back-of-stage lighting rig and diamond-shaped projection screens.

Relying on pre-recorded elements as little as possible, the pair brought a properly live feel to their music, which was augmented by Howard’s bass guitar and Guy’s percussion. Cuts from the forthcoming debut album, of which there were many, slotted seamlessly alongside tracks such as Boiling – an evenly furrowed glide that updates house and two-step garage for a new generation – and current hit White Noise, whose instant-recognition factor lifted the whole room.

Adding live percussion to electronic dance music is an approach that can be fraught with peril, as anyone who ever witnessed dodgy bongo players at tribal house nights could testify, but Guy’s crisp, to-the-point embellishments served the tracks well. By adding cymbals and cowbells to an elongated, dubbed-up version of Running, the Jessie Ware remix which helped make Disclosure’s name, the track felt re-invigorated and renewed.

The biggest whoops of the night came for the brothers’ breakthrough hit Latch, which closed the show. Although far from typical of Disclosure’s sound in rhythmic terms – it’s less of a skitter and more of a march – the track’s popularity proved to be unmatched. The retina-burning backlights rotated and flashed; the head-shaped logos shimmered, seemingly in mid-air; and a happy, equally youthful crowd hollered along, turning the love song into an anthem of collective good cheer.

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