Live Review: Slow Club with Seize the Chair at Sheffield Great Gatsby – 6th May 2014

By on Wednesday, 14th May 2014 at 2:00 pm

Just prior to playing a high-profile – and Yorkshire Tea-sponsored, I might add, complete with tea on tap – gig at London Village Underground on Thursday, Rebecca Taylor and Charles Watson of Slow Club decided to play back to back and entirely free warm-up shows in their hometown of Sheffield on the Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. I’d never have known about it if it hadn’t been for my local, musically inclined hosts for my 4-night holiday in Steel City, who clued me in that they were playing these shows at the Great Gatsby on Division Street and I’d be a fool not to go.

Funnily enough, Martin and I had swung by the place Sunday night when he’d come into town to have dinner with me in Broomhill as a respite after we’d both finished our festival coverage that weekend (3 days at Liverpool Sound City for me, Saturday’s Live at Leeds for him) and we didn’t stay there on the grounds (Martin’s) that it was “filled with townies”, so I instead took him out to the Shakespeare instead, as it was the only other place I’d been on my last trip there. But returning to the Gatsby on Tuesday night for an actual gig was a much more delectable proposition.

The support act for the night I caught were also local to Sheffield: Seize the Chair, who Steve Lamacq once told me he considered “a great little band”. Admittedly, their name scared me (thinking about how one of my laddish mates giving them nothing but superlatives from their appearances at past Tramlines didn’t help) and made me think I, a terribly claustrophobic person, had made a huge mistake in choosing to spend my evening in the cramped and very hot and sweaty confines of the top floor of the Gatsby. I sucked down a cider in record time in an attempt to cool down. The band themselves seem to have been amused by my fear, RTing my Tweet that I was not sure I’d survive 2 hours in that sweat box. (I find it entirely ironic that their Facebook description reads “cool cool conditioned air”. Snort.) While Seize the Chair were loud (pounding drums, crashing guitars and the occasional shriek), they weren’t aggro as I had envisioned.

I have to be honest, upon hearing the title cut from their new forthcoming album ‘Complete Surrender’ out on the 14th of July on Caroline Records (previous Video of the Moment here), I thought Slow Club had jumped the shark. The song sounds more pop and Radio 1 and the video looks more Beyonce and less the thoughtful, emotional folk duo I had remembered from days gone by when I’d seen them in DC on Valentine’s Day in 2012 and at SXSW that year, when Rebecca was sporting her Wednesday football shirt. I figured I’d be able to tell from their expressions playing live if their hearts weren’t in it. However, judging from their wide smiles, they’re enjoying the change in direction. Maybe they were tired after two albums of the same ol’ schtick and wanted to try something else as indicated by the title of fresher tune ‘Everything is New’?

The crowd, which besides myself I guessed was made up of skint and/or curious uni students and all the band’s local mates, was quietly appreciative of the newer cuts included in the set list but naturally, they enjoyed the older numbers. My personal favourite of the night was a Rebecca Taylor solo version of ‘Not Mine to Love’, which to my knowledge never had an official release as a single. (Good news: it’s on the new album. Dying from its loveliness will be commencing all around the world, then.) It’s a clear example of how pained and emotional Taylor’s voice can be, given the proper forum. I think that’s what I worry most about Slow Club’s future: are they trading emotional content for chart success?

It’s hard for me critique the new songs, since it was the first time I’d heard them, but the duo along with their live backing band seem committed to the new direction and if this gig is a harbinger of things to come, there will be more energetic, dancier moments in their live sets than ever before. Taylor encouraged everyone to dance and return for the next night’s gig before closing out the set with ‘Two Cousins’. So not everything has changed. Good to know.

After the cut: Slow Club’s set list.

Slow Club Set List:
Complete Surrender
Tears of Joy
Queen’s Nose
Everything is New
Not Mine to Love (Rebecca Taylor solo)
Number One
The Pieces
Dependable People
Suffering You
Two Cousins

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