Minor Alps, Shacklewell Arms - gig review


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The Independent Culture

“It's very cosy up here on this small stage,” mutters indie luminary Juliana Hatfield who, along with her co-singer Matthews Caws (Nada Surf's frontman), is nearly hitting the ceiling of this intimate venue. It makes for a static affair, peppered with technical issues.

The alt-rock fortysomething duo major in mellow (perhaps too mellow) melodies and their soft (sometimes twee) sound recalls She & Him, George Harrison and Teenage Fanclub. The American pair keep their lyrics and sentiments simple and habitually sing in unison. Mostly their delicate vocals work nimbly in harmony but sometimes you'd wish one of them would wrestle control.

Tonight's setlist is dominated by tracks from their accomplished debut, Get There, and their gorgeously wistful single “Waiting for You” (featuring Francois Hollande's petite amie Julie Gayet in the video, sadly missing tonight) is the most accessible entry point into their dreamy acoustic pop.

To mix things up and keep the attentive crowd satisfied they also, thankfully, perform Nada Surf's scrunchy “The Moon Is Calling” and “Inside of Love”, and Hatfield's blissful “Candy Wrappers”.

Once Minor Alps loosen up, as they do on the sumptuous country number “If I Wanted Trouble” and on the plaintive “I Don't Know What to Do with My Hands” this morphs from a somewhat awkward experience to a delightful one. It's hit and miss, then.