Chapel Club, Heaven, London
Monday 21 February 2011
Vocalist Lewis Bowman smiles wryly as he flexes his sinewy fingers, wrapping them tightly around his microphone. Starting a show with your best-known single is risky, but as Bowman delivers the gothic, melancholic lyrics of "Surfacing", which samples the 1930s classic "Dream a Little Dream of Me", he clearly relishes the challenge.
The London quintet are often lumped with the plethora of other Eighties-inspired efforts on the musical market. It's understandable then that lads from Chapel Club (so named because of the band's interest in religious themes) need to make statements to single themselves out.
So far, and to much critical acclaim, their debut album, Palace, has achieved this aim. Released at the end of January, it boasts some clever poetry, intriguing forays into the darker depths of indie, and plenty of positive comparisons to Echo and the Bunnymen.
However, for a band with so much potential, this packed gig under the arches of London's Heaven (the last night of the album tour) shows the band still have a lot left to prove.
Bowman tells the crowd that "Roads" is a song about being dropped off half a mile from home in the cold by the tour manager, and walking the rest of the way. The song is as flat as its introduction, offering a somnolent blend of groaning guitars, tempered drums and lacklustre bass that exemplifies much of the gig. "Fine Light" is a fleeting high, mostly because it's abrupt change-up in pace seems to wake up the bassist as much as the crowd.
"Oh Maybe I", usually a thumping glimpse of optimism, misses the opportunity to change direction in what is fast becoming a monotonous set. "Bodies", though it attracts a few screams from adoring female fans, indulges in its repetitions and fails to move the majority of the crowd.
"Five Trees" and "The Shore" serve as a reminder that when it comes to writing, Chapel Club have potential. Tonight, it just wasn't fulfilled.
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