It must be challenging to perform emotive electronic based music in a manner that connects meaningfully with an audience. Especially when you only ever produced one album; released a decade ago and then left behind while you went to work on other projects.
It helps that the record, Give Up, was a seminal moment for a certain subset of late 90s to early noughties teens, its brief ten-track duration was filled with instantly loveable, tightly written gems; and that it’s lost none of its impact over the intervening ten years.
Still, the band took a little time to warm up, with The District Sleeps Alone Tonight and We Will Become Silhouettes seeming to be nothing more than live facsimiles of their recorded counterparts. However, they really got going with the love-hate, male-female two hander of Nothing Better, helped by the presence of Jenny Lewis on female lead vocals.
Lewis’ tiny frame looked stunning in teeny dress and high heels, and her onstage chemistry with singer Ben Gibbard is second to none. The two syncopated beautifully, tantalisingly close but never quite touching, feeding back off of each others presence.
Lewis’ vocals seemed higher in the mix than on the original recording, but the pair seemed melodiously matched, as well as impressing with their performances on a wide range of instruments.
Ten year bonus song A Tattered Line of String was well received, and the tale of a furtive one night stand between two ‘just friends’ would have fitted well into the original album.
The set concluded with Natural Anthem, before the band returned for an encore comprising (This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan, by bandmate Jimmy Tamborello’s old band Dntel, and ending on Brand New Colony. Gibbard kept the crowd singing to the last, just before the nights went up for a final time.
Less than an hour and a half after starting, the band bowed out of Brixton, leaving no-one doubting their ability to connect.