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Slow Club’s annual December outing has been a special Christmas treat for several years now, especially when viewed with a mulled wine from the pews of the Union Chapel.

So it was always going to be interesting when the band opted for the larger Koko, and they started off well. Rebecca Taylor and Charles Watson appeared on stage, following It Doesn’t Always Have to be Beautiful with I Was Unconscious It Was a Dream and Dance Til The Morning Light.

Then the rest of the band filed on, adding kick to If We’re Still Alive, with a great brass section which unfortunately overpowered the vocals somewhat. However, with the extra support, the two front people (persons?) seemed to lose some of their energy. While the songs were still great, the performance seemed a little sterile, lacking the vivacity they usually struggle to contain.

Interspersed between tracks from the band’s second album were several new songs, the first one being The Queen’s Nose, with a good sax line and Rebecca sounding plaintive (and very heartfelt) as she sang “I can’t go on living with these songs”.

Where I’m Waking starts well, opening brashly as usual, but eventually loses it’s original vigour, especially as horns replace vocals later on. Two other new songs lack any real stand out elements, but the last one of the evening, Not Mine To Love, shows more promise. Opening with just Rebecca and a guitar, before segueing into a touching combination of twee-countryfied-pop.

The set picks up again towards the end, in spite of Hackney Marsh’s false start, and the band don’t break long before the encore. It’s the usual run of Christmas hits, although sadly only three songs long. Starting with Charles’s rendition of Darlene Love’s All Alone on Christmas, the expected highlight of the evening is Christmas TV, touching as always as the crowd is silenced. It was so quiet in fact, that it’s possible to hear as the pair almost collapse into giggles.

Finally the whole band returned for a beautiful, a-capella version of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), complete with sleigh bells, saving the evening before calling it a night.

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