Slow Club at Highbury and Islington Garage

10th February 2010 – 5.24 pm

The Garage in Highbury and Islington is a fairly small venue. I would have thought the Union Chapel, just down the road and where Slow Club played a Christmas gig, would hold more people, but perhaps the Garage's lack of pews gets more people crammed in. 'So many of you', says Slow Club's Rebecca, looking out over the mass of bodies, 'it's horrible'. She seems quite nervous about the attention the band is getting, even though they are headlining a 'Next Big Thing' event. But Slow Club are ever charming and appear as confident as always, starting the set with I Was Unconscious, it Was a Dream before jumping straight in to new track Wild Blue Milk.

Charles is ready for the next song and almost begins, but Rebecca had other ideas. 'Oh, I was going to have a chit-chat'. She acqueisces to Charles, though, pointing out that 'No, it's better this way' if they play a song. Trophy Room stutters in the first bar but quickly gets going again, and the song is clearly a fan favourite with many of the audience singing along. The venue warms up quickly, Charles taking off his jumper to reveal a Hot Club de Paris t-shirt, the band apparently playing the Lexington at the same time tonight. To deflect attention away from Charles's fashion faux-pas that threatens to send people to a different venue, Rebecca points out her 'John Terry necklace', a delightfully home-made paper cut-out piece of jewellery. But Charles thinks that it is actually Gareth from Los Campesinos, which makes Rebecca blush quite badly and want to get back to playing songs.

It Doesn't Have to be Beautiful is played, as is the bitter-sweet Sorry About the Doom, before Charles asks 'does anyone know the song No Good Way?' Rebecca wants to dive off-stage for a wee and hopes to make it back in time before her vocal part enters. She makes a dash, as Charles happily points out that 'it is my turn to shine' solo on stage. Rebecca does indeed make it back in time, giving herself a little cheer and pointing out that she washed her hands and everything, which maybe upsets the sombre nature of There is No Good Way to Say I'm Leaving, but Slow Club are so utterly adorable that they can do no wrong. Even when the set goes awry, it is handled with such off-handed grace that we are drawn further in to Slow Club's wonderful world.

The guitar introduction to the next song sounds like Dance 'Til the Morning Light, which Charles starts singing, but Rebecca begins When I'm Gone and they both realise they're mixed up and stop. The next song should indeed be When I'm Gone and they restart at the first verse, but it goes awry again by the second, getting confused between the ages in the lyrics and their own ages, different from when they wrote the song. 'There's a way to salvage this car wreck', says Charles, 'but I don't know what it is'. Apparently, the answer is to to be prompted by the audience. Finding out that the next verse deals with being twenty-four and knee-pads on the floor helps the band get through the rest of the song beautifully. 'That was the longest song ever.'

Along with Broken Mouth we've heard two new songs so far, but Rebecca wants to know if we can handle one more new song, with only two songs in total left in the set. We think so, but Rebecca's not sure, asking if we really want to hear it 'or are just being nice'. A bit more teasing follows, and then they play Golden Mountain, leaving just one song left in the set. For the final song, Slow Club bring out the support act, Swedish duo First Aid Kit, for a purely acoustic number. All four stand at the very front of the small stage, Charles with an acoustic guitar and the others without microphones, and we are serenaded with a beautiful rendition of Dance 'Til the Morning Light. Only a few months ago Charles considered the song to be little more than album filler, surprised at the reception it got at the earlier gig, and now Slow Club are closing their set with it, clearly responding to audience feedback. And they get more feedback tonight, as the acoustic version allows the audience to sing along, if not to every word then at least enthusiastically to the chorus.

There is only a short delay before Slow Club return for a one-song encore, a big version of Giving up on Love. There have been a few hiccups during the performance, but it's all been brilliant. Coming to see Slow Club is not like most gigs, it is more like spending an evening with a bunch of friends. The band are able to project a warm, comfortable presence throughout the venue, making anyone feel welcome. The audience is not just there to be entertained, but almost to be a part of the band. It's impossible not to love Slow Club and this has been another fabulous evening with them.

  1. One Response to “Slow Club at Highbury and Islington Garage”

  2. And I separately meet both Charles and Rebecca before the gig! They are lovely people, and I'm such a groupie.

    By pjharvey on Feb 10, 2010

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