Last night Chad Valley treated a possibly over-capacity Sebright Arms downstairs to a sneak preview of new material from his forthcoming LP Young Hunger.
The Hackney Road venue, a chic yet unassuming bar and grill type place, always appears like you’re at the buzz gig of the night even if there’s no gig actually scheduled. Rumoured to be Michael Fassbender’s local when he finds a break from his shooting films, it’s the kind of pub where Time Out food reviewers let their hair down on their off-days and a place where you either feel grossly under-dressed or spend the entire evening trying to not stand anywhere near the person wearing the same shirt as you.
Things could have been a lot different for Chad Valley, real name being the even more exotic sounding Hugo Manuel, tonight, however, with the likes of Patti Smith, Regal Safari and King Krule all playing elsewhere in the city. But with fellow Oxford band Fixers taking up the DJ decks tonight, and this being Chad’s first solo performance in something close to six months, tonight feels like so much of “an occasion” that it’s pushed the pre-sales to the sold-out point.
Having last graced the considerably larger stage at XOYO just up the road at the end of February, tonight stands as an intimate warm-up to try out some of the new album tracks. But despite the party-like atmosphere, the night takes a while to kick in, with a hesitant audience not looking to budge until most-popular-hit-so-far ‘Anything’ drops, a calypso and Calippo-cool summer belter.
The newer material continues the sonic theme of his last EP, with roaring choruses over soaring arpeggios, but perhaps with more of a Tough Alliance feel this time round. Growth and variation is always welcomed with any follow-up release, but, by the sounds of things this evening, it’s proven that you can have plenty of the former without necessarily the latter.
Everyone’s highlight of the evening comes when Jack from Fixers comes on stage for the night’s closing track ‘My Girl’, a kitschy electroclash duet that pays such a homage lyrically to Spice Girls’ ‘Wannabe’ that it verges on plagiarism. Okay, perhaps now it feels like a party.
I want your love
Up and Down
Tell all your friends
Now that I’m real
Fall 4 U