Slow Club at Scala

25th September 2009 – 3.44 pm

The house lights go down but the band don't appear on stage. A little longer passes before a ripple of excitement passes through the audience, just as Slow Club does. Strumming acoustic guitars, Charles and Rebecca squeeze their way from a side door to the centre of the venue and play their first song in the midst of an already enraptured crowd. 'Did you like our elaborate entrance?' Charles asks, now on stage and plugging a guitar in to an amplifier. I think it's safe to say we most certainly did, as even a small stage in a small venue can present a barrier to the kind of intimate performance we just enjoyed.

Slow Club don't shy away from the audience at all. Even though Rebecca claims that she is trying not to talk between songs too much, announcing quickly that 'oh look, the guitar is ready' to start the next song, she is always ready to share her thoughts. Charles takes a moment to ask everyone with a camera to take a photograph at the same time, so that he can use his own camera to snap all the flashes going off towards the stage. After the band whistle through the middle-eighth of When I Go Rebecca interjects that it was their best attempt at getting it right so far, causing the pair to lose their place in the song and pause to think about what line comes next. Any awkwardness that may be felt by the band comes across as charming and playful banter.

This is their biggest gig so far, and apparently Slow Club were quite worried about it. But all their worries are allayed soon after seeing the packed audience and hearing the continued appreciation for their songs, which relaxes everyone. Most of the songs from debut album Yeah, So? are played. Rebecca's vocals soar on Sorry About the Doom, more upbeat numbers like Giving up on Love get everyone bouncing, and the respectful hush of an attentive audience is felt strongly during the quiet There is no Good Way to Say I'm Leaving. Charles is surprised when Dance to the Morning Light gets cheers when it is announced to be played next, saying that it 'never gets that reaction, it's the very definition of an album track', but it seems he underestimates the song.

There is only one blemish on the wonderful collection of songs played, and that is perhaps the fault of an inattentive sound engineer. When Rebecca starts pounding on her low tom the heavy bass note pumped through the PA reverberates all the air in the venue. All I can hear is a steady, low-frequency buzz swamping just about everything else, Slow Club almost unheard beneath the resonance. But the problem with the sound is only for one song and is soon forgotten. Coming to the end of the set the pair acknowledge that when a band says they only have three songs left they really mean they have 'well, three-and-a-half', so even though there are a few sad calls from the audience when they close the set with Trophy Room Rebecca tells them to 'deal with it'. We know they're coming back as much as they do.

The encore is glorious. Slow Club recreate their first single, standing at the front of the stage, once more playing, encouraging the audience to be the chorus of voices heard on the recorded version of Let's Fall Back in Love. It's a wonderful rendition, the band leading at least a hundred in song and handclaps, everyone swept up in a wave of happiness and positivity. The whole gig feels less like a night out and more like a night in with friends, Slow Club making us welcome in to their world. Rebecca reinforces this idea when she quotes a friend of theirs, saying that if we buy Slow Club's album tonight we could take the band home with us. Noting that they also have bags and t-shirts for sale she says that if we buy all three then they will do even more than just come home. Rebecca would 'definitely look through your Sky+ box for Eastenders, Charles will do more slutty stuff'.

The band leave the stage, but the encore isn't over. Donning acoustic guitars again they play their way up to a balcony and serenade the audience a second time, this time with their Christmas song. When the audience surprises Slow Club with impromptu whistling along, repeating the band's motif from earlier, the pair can't help but giggle in appreciation. Another audience sing-along finishes the encore, but rapturous applause brings Slow Club back once more. Completely unprepared for such a reception, they don't have a final song rehearsed, but decide to struggle through Apples and Pairs, Charles freely admitting that 'it might go tits up'. The few pauses and occasional strangled note only add to the charm that has enveloped the night in the warm blanket of belonging. When someone shouts out 'I love you' to the band Rebecca replies 'if only it were that easy'. But sometimes it really feels like it is.

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