London Grammar may have just missed out on the prestigious Mercury Prize nomination last month, but if the young trio’s performance at Popscene, Rickshaw Stop last Friday, Sept 27 was anything to go by - they prove they are doing anything but wasting their young years and the accolades are surely to follow.
In fact, they were tipped for the UK music prize because their EP “Metal & Dust” released in Feb this year was garnering much attention. That coupled with ensuing live festivals and radio performances that lived up to the hype of their studio EP meant fans and critics were soon clamoring for a full-length album. Early last month, they satisfied all with their aptly titled debut album “If You Wait” which upon release went to Number 2 on the UK Album Charts.
Highlights of their set at the Rickshaw Stop include the standout "I’m Wasting My Younger Years” and “Darling Are You Gonna Leave Me”, as well as a cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Ways”. They begin with the haunting tune “Hey Now” which has strong shades of Portishead and Massive Attack complete with deep vocals and trip-hop production.
Casually dressed in a plain halter-top tucked into denim jeans with high-tops, Reid cuts a striking figure. She stands as still as a choirgirl flanked on either side by guitarist, Dan Rothman and multi-instrumentalist, Dot Major. Reid appears cool and icy with her voice evoking even more pain from the already taut lyrics. But when the song ends, she chirps “We’ve only been in America 3 days. And already I love it,” in her rather posh accent, offset with a genial girlish warmth.
Next up Major plays the djembe drum while Reid coos “Darling Are You Gonna Leave Me” and holds the room spellbound. “Interlude” follows quickly with Hannah on the keyboards playing a melodic lullaby as she sings “...ooh how we dream of you,” and deadpans after “…this is not a dirty song as some people think. It’s a song about insomnia.”
More cheeky banter is exchanged with bandmates about how hard life is being in a band and later, about their accents. She adds: “This is our first tour. You would have thought that we would have toured the UK but we haven’t, that’s next year. This is our first proper tour.” To which the crowd applaud and cheer. The dark melancholia drenched in her singing voice juxtaposed with gossamer lightness when she speaks makes her an enchanting creature to behold on stage.
Though comparisons have been made to Florence and the Machine who may have more imagery-rich lyrics, Reid employs her vocals altogether differently tending to hit those high head tones resulting in melodies less jerky and jarring. And whatever limitations her lyrics may pose now, her full-bodied voice with shades of Sade envelopes you like a glove and takes you there.
They leave out their recent Disclosure collaboration, “Help Me Lose My Mind” but do two covers. Chris Issak’s “Wicked Game” sounding like the flip side of the same musical coin; and “Nightcall” by French house artist, Kavinsky whose track was used as the theme for the Ryan Gosling vehicle, “Drive”.
It is a flawless set even when they do make mistakes. Like when Reid starts on the wrong key, then stops and with a smile, apologizes to the floor getting us all in on the joke. As she gets Major and Rothman to play the song’s intro over again, hitting the notes effortlessly the second time round, this brief foible just made them all the more endearing.
Darling Are You Gonna Leave Me
Wasting My Young Years
Stay awake with me
Metal & Dust