Madam JoJo’s is a strange venue. The stage, pushed to one corner, bears all the hallmarks of not actually being a stage, more a podium that dreamed of something more. Of shedding the sordid pole piercing through its very heart and chasing a higher purpose. Which given this is Soho, is probably true.
Then, in front of the stage, a massive drop. Massive, comparatively, to the rest of the venue. Alright, it isn’t a Grand Canyonesque gaping chasm that you’re going to pay to get a helicopter ride over, it just makes the stage look surprisingly high. Back up further and round the outside, at an equivalent height to the stage, sits a sort of balcony.
The whole thing is almost a mini bowl, a shrunken arena, and it makes those present on the higher section feel superior to the plebs in the pit.
We are the Roman Generals to the proletariat scrabbling down there. We are above them. We are better than them. We will throw pieces of chicken down there and watch them fight like dogs over the scraps.
Dear Owners of Madam JoJo’s. Very sorry for throwing pieces of chicken at paying customers in your venue. It will not happen again.
Anyway, the oddness of a venue (and of a reviewer) shouldn’t really matter to Deaf Club. And almost certainty doesn’t. Originally hailing from Wales, and now based in London, they are a five piece who make weighty, spacious music. Music with a hint of shoe-gaze, a touch of gothic embellishment.
They’re like Esben And The Witch without the well-thumbed copy of Drukqs. They’re like The Duke Spirit with a more spiritual and less denim overall clad world view. They’re like 2:54 only, errr, well, with less sisters.
It’s a sound which seems strangely a la mode, but when it’s done as well as it is here, that’s not necessarily something to worry about. There’s enough on display tonight mark Deaf Club out as potentially worthy proponents.
They nail the creation of a woozy atmosphere. It’s an atmosphere which provides a suitable launching platform for songs to genuinely soar. Particularly recent single Sunday, recreated here with a grander and even bleaker feel than on record. Polly Mackey’s plaintive vocals standing tall, an elegant buoy repelling the crashing waves of sound.
It’s a short, pointed set to a sparse, but definitely engaged audience. It does more than enough to leave you wanting more, regardless of the surroundings.