Slow Club - The Echoplex - 3/11/12
Better Than . . . self-medicating a broken heart without the keen supervision of a pair of trained English romantic-disillusionment specialists.
Slow Club is a band of fascinating contrasts. Onstage, singer Rebecca Taylor tells silly jokes and exhorts the crowd to have fun, and yet she and her musical partner, Charles Watson, croon some of the saddest ballads this side of their hero Leonard Cohen. There are some compulsively buoyant pop moods on Slow Club's recent album, Paradise, but you could say that the Sheffield group are at their best when they're feeling their worst.
"You got the brains/I got the body," Taylor intoned early on at the Echoplex, turning what could have been a sarcastic or boastful line into something vulnerable and hauntingly yearning. Watson answered her plea with star-lit chimes of guitar before the rest of the band came rushing in to fill the lonely void of "Where I'm Waking" with a euphoric chorus.
In the past, Watson and Taylor have appeared here as a duo, but last night they were augmented by a drummer and a bassist. The rhythm section added a solid rock drive and fulsome pop grandeur to many of the new songs, but they were also wise enough to lay back or sit out entirely on the quieter ballads.
Falling James Slow Club's Charles Watson & Rebecca Taylor
Taylor alternated between drums and guitar, while Watson stuck to guitar. She and Watson sang clearly and robustly, whether they were trading verses or blending together in those deliciously bittersweet harmonies. Some of the best moments came when they backed themselves with just those mournful voices and a somberly plucked guitar or two.
"Anybody ever been to Sheffield?" Taylor asked to dead silence. Nonplussed, Watson struck up with the sparse, clean and bass-y chords of "Never Look Back," chopping up little bits of languid soul between his and Taylor's deliriously aching harmonies. After "Horses Jumping," another stately ballad, the ever-cheeky Taylor had another go at the crowd.