It’s not hard to see why Hot Chip chose Matthew Dear (**) as support for their UK tour. The synth-prodding, cowbell-clutching Texan, along with his buddies on guitar and drums, treads the same not-quite-dance, not-quite-indie path as tonight’s headliners. But his club-oriented brand of electro sounds swamped in the expansive space of the Barrowland Ballroom.
Despite a similar aesthetic, Hot Chip (****) have no such problems in moving rafters on the roof and feet on the floor. Three years after they supported Mylo here to a handful of earlycomers, the London quintet are relishing their rapid ascendency, taking obvious pleasure in performing a set that weighs considerably in favour of new album Made In The Dark to a sold-out room. Hot Chip’s crossover appeal is reflected in the audience make-up: excitable clubbers more accustomed to sweaty weekend nights at Optimo, Topshop-clad indie kids in search of a danceable gig, and curious observers who only display signs of life at the first squeak of Over and Over. Not forgetting a bloke who has crafted a pair of glo-stick spectacles – a nice tribute to the so-called über-geeks on stage, even if the nu-rave connotations would annoy the hell out of the band.
Primal drumming opens proceedings, Shake a Fist’s tidal synths sweep in, and a storm of strobe creates a disorientating experience. This thunderous assault morphs into the familiar, Balearic beat of (And I Was) A Boy From School, and the club atmosphere takes a firm grip. Hold On turns it up a notch, ploughing deep into seriously heavy-duty dance. The only problem is that not all Hot Chip’s songs are this bombastic, so when the mellow Touch Too Much arrives there is an evident, attention-sapping lull.
Perhaps sensing this with their DJ sensibilities, the London band let rip with Over and Over, causing a stage-front surge and copious air-punching. Wrestlers is too ironic to maintain the excitement, the guitar-led Out At the Pictures is an improvement, and the garage rhythm of Don’t Dance has the reverse effect on the crowd. One Pure Thought is the highlight of the occasion though, its surging samba beat inspiring a rash of body shaking from clubbers and the curious alike. This renewed energy is channelled into current single Ready For the Floor, which receives a radical ’90s trance makeover, while set-closer In the Privacy of Our Love has the apt feel of the final, grab-a-girl slow dance.
Despite having aired all their finest musical moments, the band return for a passable encore. But this is of little concern to the diverse onlookers, who have forgotten their style-tribe allegiances to form one big sweaty mass of euphoria. Hot Chip may reject the nu-rave mutterings, but they certainly know how to conjure the spirit of ’92.