Live review: Chapel Club

London Dalston Stamford Works, Wednesday February 10

[a]Chapel Club[/a]’s Lewis Bowman is a man of few words. Flanked by the decaying walls of an abandoned warehouse, lurching over his microphone, his eyes nothing but a cold, dark abyss, he delivers tonight’s only sign that he doesn’t hate us all: “thank you”. But then no-one’s come here, to the rectum of Dalston, to hear him talk about his loft conversion.

For he stands at the front of one of Britain’s most exciting, most hyped prospects. A band who require no support tonight, who’ve pushed this venue to near over-capacity and, before they’ve even played a note, own the room through anticipation alone. When they do finally get around to the notes, they offer up a sound that bridges the contemporary gap between the hook-driven doom-pop of [a]White Lies[/a] and the atmospheric wall of sound adopted by [a]Glasvegas[/a]. Whether this was a gap that needed urgent filling is another matter, but tonight it proves authentically intense and tight.

Bowman himself embodies the stage-craft of Ian Curtis, if not his twitchy dancing. He stares down the room with possessed contempt on most tracks, yet delivers wry, smart and witty lyrics with poetic flourish on others, such as on the brilliant single, [b]‘O Maybe I’[/b]. “[i]O maybe I should settle down to a quiet life/O maybe I should chance it all on a perfect night[/i]” he sings in all his baritone glory. Heaven knows he’s Morrissey now.

All very impressive. However it’s with their other tracks that Chapel Club will stand or fall this year, and there are inconsistencies. For every [b]‘O Maybe I’[/b] there’s a [b]‘Machine Music’[/b], the type of generic, doom-pop slog that cynics will use to beat them to death with.

For tonight, though, it’s the flashes of dark, glossy grandeur that win out and the only man that looks like he’s going to beat anyone to death anytime soon is Bowman… but we kind of love him for it.

[b]Stephen Kelly[/b]