While the members of Hot Chip haven’t been far from a stage since the band formed fifteen years ago, as part of a plethora of solo and side projects, tonight is their first London show together in three years. And while the house heavy 2 Bears, euphoric electronica of New Build and surprisingly stark recordings from frontman Alexis Taylor have kept momentum going, neither quite compares to when these sounds are brought together.
To someone unaware of the band, the mixed and matched sextet walking onto the stage, dressed in their finest circus/scientist chic, aren’t the obvious choice for creators of some of dance music’s finest moments of the last decade, but it’s this unique blend that’s helped to create intelligent, relevant dance tracks, ahem, over and over. At times it’s as if somebody has blended the experimentation of Kraftwerk with the stage presence of Coldplay (yet nothing like Coldplay’s Kraftwerk sampling ‘Talk’…).
Numbers from four of their previous five albums remain dance floor fillers, with ‘Over And Over’ and ‘Ready For The Floor’ creating raucous crowd movements usually reserved for newer, indie acts, and later releases (‘Night & Day’, ‘I Feel Better’) already accepted as classics. As you’d expect from an act with an ear for a beat, the set is almost seamless, despite the fact that on record each collection has its own identity.
On upcoming release Why Make Sense?, the beats are bolder and the overall sound more rounded, with disco and ‘90s dance dropped into the mix to create their strongest collection to date. Opener (of both the gig and the LP) ‘Huarache Lights’ is slowed down Moroder sprinkled with hip-hop, with the entire gig performed in front of the installation featured in the video, while for tonight’s crowd ‘Need You Now’ will undoubtably soundtrack the summer, whether heard on sun-soaked beaches or in muddy fields.
‘Why Make Sense?’ closes the set, the rolling drum beat giving the band their most “band” like sound to date, while the encore sees Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’ given an electronic makeover. There’s a moment during the live show when you realise that the men on stage – percussion playing, greying disco pimps and dad-dancers behind vintage synths – are performing some of this year’s finest beats. It doesn’t really make sense, it hasn’t ever really made sense, so why start now?