Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Getting emotional with Hot Chip in Manchester

18 May 2015, 17:32 | Written by Peter Wise

The brim of a domed hat frames Alexis Taylor’s twinkling spectacles – half flapper-chic, half antique infantryman’s helmet. The stage is full to bursting with beautiful electronic sounds and flamboyant shirts.

Tonight (13th May) Hot Chip stand before a packed crowd in a tiny Mancunian gem of a music venue known as Gorilla, and we don’t yet know quite how lucky we are to be there with them.

There’s a lot to love about this most idiosyncratic of bands, but Hot Chip’s most winning attribute could well be their ability to imbue their predominantly electronic sound with a warmth and humanity – abundantly in evidence tonight - that flies in the face of anyone who ever said there’s no soul in live dance music.

The brassy, embossed synth sound of “Huarache Lights” was our striking introduction to new album Why Make Sense? (read our review here), and the same goes for tonight’s show. With metronomic drums, subtly intricate chord progressions and the best synthesizer tone you’re heard this side of Simian Mobile Disco’s “Cruel Intentions”, it’s an incredibly strong start.

Maybe it’s Hot Chip’s playing that lends their music its soul – the rich lattice of synth lines that forms the foundation of their songs is interlaced with tight live percussion, cutting guitar-lines and a plethora or voices, the acoustic and the electronic slotting together seamlessly. And the sheer romance of the subject matter covered here has a role to play too. Many of the tracks that get an airing tonight – “One Life Stand”, “Cry for You”, “Need You Now” - are love songs in the first person. They’re intimate, direct, and emotional. It’s when this sentimentality is married with a touch of starry-eyed fatalism in “I Feel Better” that the gig reaches its loved-up zenith.

Predictably, it’s mid-noughties breakthrough track “Over & Over” that gets the biggest reaction of the evening, and it’d be fair to say that older material provides some of the set’s most memorable moments, from the chart-smashing “Ready for the Floor” to “Flutes” in all its hypnotic greatness.

But all this euphoria would mean so much less if it wasn’t trimmed with darker moments from Why Make Sense?. Dance classic-in-the-making “Need You Now” is brooding in its brilliance, and “Why Make Sense?” sounds positively desolate by Hot Chip’s standards. These inky new colours on the palette give the band the emotional gamut to match their remarkable sonic scope, resulting in a set that resonates that little bit more fully.

“Replace us with the things that do the job better”? For the moment at least, the machines have some catching up to do.

Set-list:

Huarache Lights
One Life Stand
Night and Day
Easy to Get
Started Right
Flutes
Over and Over
Cry for You
Need You Now
Ready for the Floor
I Feel Better
Why Make Sense?
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Made in the Dark
Alley Cats
Dancing in the Dark (Bruce Springsteen cover)

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