O2 Academy Brixton, London, Friday, February 26
The carriage marked ‘cult favourites’ is a comfy one. [a]Hot Chip[/a] have already done enough to be able to ride out the rest of their career on a tide of goodwill, churning out quirky electropop and getting remixed by obscure but credible German techno producers while wearing amusing jumpers and drinking mint tea with [a]Scritti Politti[/a] and [a]Robert Wyatt[/a]. But Hot Chip want more than that. They’ve already won our minds, but this time they’ve come for our hearts.
Two days previously, on this very Brixton stage, NME Award-winners [a]Biffy Clyro[/a], [a]Muse[/a] and [a]Kasabian[/a] mounted a comeback of sorts for hefty man-rock. But Hot Chip are determined not to return to the prehistoric tyranny of the hairy-chested power chord. Now, bolstered by thumping live drums and armed with the bawlalong choruses of new album [b]‘One Life Stand’[/b], the mild men of electro are taking on the rockers at their own game.
Hot Chip know that angst and rage are ugly and old hat. Previously they’ve retaliated with irony, but these days their weapon is L-O-V-E. Alexis Taylor might have written the song [b]‘One Life Stand’[/b] for his wife, but the sentiment could easily apply to his lifelong musical partner Joe Goddard, as the pair of them croon earnestly to each other across a bank of quivering synths. Meanwhile, [b]‘Brothers’[/b] could be the most touching bromance anthem since [b]‘Acquiesce’[/b].
Gone are the child’s rain macs and wizard costumes that Hot Chip once used as crutches to avoid engaging directly with the crowd. Tonight – with the exception of Alexis, who appears to have recently absconded from a Mississippi penitentiary – they are consummate hosts in matching charcoal suits, genial guitarist Al Doyle introducing the band or offering to share his cocktail recipes. A carnival dimension is added by steel pan player Fimber Bravo. It’s difficult to tell what he’s actually adding to a swirling, rave-alicious version of [b]‘Over And Over’[/b], but it’s probably worth it just to have a fat Trinidadian in a red and gold cape on the stage.
The trade-off engineered by the new steelier, streamlined Hot Chip is that subtler/sillier numbers, such as [b]’Wrestlers’[/b] or [b]‘The Warning’[/b] have been ruthlessly expunged. When the band do venture
a ballad, it’s the dreary [b]‘Slush’[/b] from ‘One Life Stand’, the set’s only misstep. However, they instantly redeem themselves with a version of [b]‘Ready For The Floor’[/b] that sounds positively belligerent. Hot Chip want to be your new best friends forever, and they’re not taking no for an answer.