All bands would love to have consistently positive reviews, but most stop short of explicitly asking for them. Hot Club de Paris, however, have always been different. Whilst fast paced indie pop has quickly died out, the Scouse trio have swam against the trend with some wonderfully jaunty efforts since they emerged with their debut Drop it ‘til it Pops in 2006. In a barely half filled room at Moho Live, though, it seems as though the pleading is an earnest as it is a joke.
With barely any promotion for the concert, it’s fair to say that the venue hardly helped it’s ailing reputation here. Indeed, at times it seems as though the headline bands are more an excuse for the money spinning unsigned shows that take place in the adjoining room. Indeed, members and fans of those bands linger at the back of the room as Hot Club take to the stage for a set doomed from the very beginning. During set opener ‘The White Town Express’, the band show all the vigour that has come to be expected of them until, as would prove a theme, the faltering electricity to an amp ruins Matt Smith’s guitar on the song’s final breakdown.
Good humour has long been a trademark of the group’s live performances, but the jokes soon thin as the frustration of sub-standard equipment begins to show. Barely a songs goes by without some kind of technical difficulty, meaning the band’s trademarkstop-start rhythms are disconnected by glitches. When a band is on form, it’s easy for them to gloss over any difficulties, as rave reviews of The Twang’s early performances go to show. But, when the technology allows them to, the threesome are still as engaging as ever, struggling through with the added difficulty of playing a set devoid of some of the more well known tracks for their early career in favour of some from their new EPs.
Only when they borrow an amp from a member of the crowd are things allowed to continue smoothly, but by then it’s too late to truly rescue the gig, with some members of the audience having to slope off for the last bus home. When they’re allowed to get into full flow, they’re brilliant, as the final two songs prove. Luckily, this is unlikely to be the first time that many of those in attendance will have seen Hot Club de Paris, who would probably be the first to admit this was far from a vintage performance. But whilst others may have let such a nightmare get on top of them, it’s a testament to bands spirit that they still give a relatively good account of themselves. Then again, a band who describe their songs as being about ‘punching someone’, ‘throwing bricks off of motorway bridges’ and ‘pulling a whitey in your parents house’ are unlikely to let a terrible venue get the better of them.
Hot Club de Paris – Free the Pterocactyl 3 [download from amazon]