Upon entering the grimy but welcoming Shepherd’s Bush Empire, I was greeted by Javeon, a three man group named after the lead singer. The front man himself is a solid vocalist, with a style somewhere in between Frank Ocean and Loick Essien, although with a touch less flair.
As enjoyable as his performance was, it was soon obvious that the sound system was not properly adjusted, meaning at times the bass became too overpowering and often drowned out the vocals. While showing promise, Javeon still lacks the great songs which will undoubtedly come with time. Currently the tracks are still a bit too similar to each other and Javeon at present is just another house meets pop infusion like Duke Dumont, Disclosure and Gorgon City and dozens of others.
With the British UK dance scene at risk of becoming saturated, it was a relief to hear the melody of several stringed instruments heralding the arrival of Clean Bandit. It’s not often that a group producing pop music can get away with having a cellist and violinist as a key part of the act, yet they’ve managed to accomplish the feat somehow; well done chaps. Opening with ‘A&E’ and with energy abounding, both female vocalists quickly showed they were in top form, combining fast upbeat vocals, with gentler melodies.
One benefit of having a band with classically trained musicians, contrasting vocalists plus a DJ has allowed Clean Bandit to flit between genres easily. The liberal use of the strings really gives Clean Bandit that unique edge that few pop bands currently have. Their quick switches between classical, reggae, and drum and bass throughout their hour long set truly proved not only the quality of the group, but also their depth.
Despite the great songs that Clean Bandit have already amassed, they still are still missing vital crowd interaction. This comes from lacking a charismatic front man to take control and boss the fans about; something which they failed to do tonight. The audience, while having a great time, were very slow to liven up and failed to get into the groove until half a dozen tracks into the set. When it get lively, it did so quickly. Bringing on dynamic guest vocalist Ssegawa Ssekint to perform ‘Mozart’s House’ was a lovely touch and he did well to work the crowd up from their sluggish state into frenzy.
As the night drew to a close, the group left the stage without playing their number one hit, ‘Rather Be’. This was never going to be well received making an encore inevitable. I really don’t like encores. They’re self indulgent and the audience have enough sense to know full well the artist will return, particularly when their main hit hasn’t yet featured. This being said, the fans still went along with the facade and cheered Clean Bandit back on for their final two tracks, beginning with a cover of Robyn S’ ‘Show Me Love’. Covers are always fun and their classical rendition proved no exception. Better than the original? Probably.
With the crowd still reeling, Clean Bandit brought the evening’s proceedings to a climax with the highly anticipated ‘Rather Be’, sending fans into raptures.