The music, by its very nature, is built for relaxation and total immersion rather than visceral experience...

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Bent: London Talk Of London

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Bent: London Talk Of London

It was always going to be difficult to turn the esoteric, laid-back genius of a band like Bent into a convincing live proposition. The music, by its very nature, is built for relaxation and total immersion rather than visceral experience, so it was never going to be an occasion where you return drenched in sweat and babbling incoherently about a life-changing experience.

The music is, however, ideal for the setting of somewhere like the Talk Of London. A performance of Cats is taking place downstairs as we settle in snugly for the aural bubblebath that is ‘Exercise 1’, a somewhat apt juxtaposition, as Bent’s music is steeped in the vaudeville tradition. It’s something of which the pair seem archly aware, as the dippy giddiness of the exquisitely lovely ‘I Love My Man’, with it’s mournful vocal and sing-song instrumentation, or the cheeky bounce of ‘People’ as evidence of that. This is downtempo without any of the ever-so-serious, po-faced shortcomings that this kind of music often lets itself down with, and is all the stronger for it.

When singer Zoe takes to the stage for a breezy run-through of next single ‘Swollen’, she adds a refreshing touch of colour to proceedings, but it’s really ‘Always’, ‘Programmed To Love’s playfully seductive finale, that provides the real highpoint. Part stoned Fila Brazillia and part cooing St Etienne, the band’s ruffled, cheeky charm melds with an almost child-like innocence that is entirely their own.

John Hall