Slow Club, Portland Arms, Cambridge, 16 July 2014

Opening act tonight were Cambridge 5-piece Fred’s House, with their engaging folk/pop/country blend. Two acoustic guitars, electric bass and cajon (the beat box you sit on) back the two or three part harmonies and the lead vocals of Vikki Gavin and Griff Jameson, shown to great effect in ‘Hold On’. The songs featured roving, sensitive bass lines, some banjo and gentle guitar picking, the music occasionally letting loose to give some extra contrast. The real-life sentiments of ‘Standing Next To Me’ and ‘Fine Life’ struck a chord with the rapidly growing audience and then ‘Beautiful You’ brought the set to a close with its Spanish flavour and changes of tempo. It was a good performance, appreciated by the audience. It was announced that drummer Paul was greatly looking forward to Slow Club and so were we…

Slow Club are Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor, multi-instrumentalists and vocalists from Sheffield and they have just released their third album ‘Complete Surrender’ this week. The music is not trapped in a single category, the new album is a change in direction from earlier folk-tinged sounds but the range of indie/folk/pop/rock sounds still vary. From the opening ‘oldie’ song ‘If We’re Still Alive’ the talented duo (with added bass and drums) set the tone for an evening of great sounds. They played the whole new album, the crowd were stunned, silent in the pauses in the slow songs, amazed by the Motown stomp of brilliant single ‘Suffering You, Suffering Me’. The album features extra strings and brass but they were not missed tonight in the intimate setting of the Portland. The air conditioning broke down during the show but the effortless cool of the band saw us through. The slow burning blues of the memorably named ‘Queen’s Nose’ and the big vocal of ‘Not Mine To Love’ were two of the many highlights.

They have a coordinated stylish image but any distance that may be perceived from the ultra-cool look is completely removed by the likeable interaction with each other and the audience. A great strength in their performance is the different instrumental combinations and the contrast when Charles or Rebecca takes the lead vocal and shines individually. It was a sensational show, they were brilliant, buy the album and see them soon….


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