What do Brains, Cactus Jack, an art school student, a librarian and a nerdy bloke with a dodgy moustache have in common? Not much. Give them keyboards, synthesizers, percussion and line them up on a stage, and you have the Hot Chip live experience.
Leaving aside their incredible breakthrough The Warning, and the dark horse saddles added en route to the Mercury Prize ceremony, you can’t help but think you’ve wandered into the activities area of a mental institution when you set your eyes on the group.
It’s not just that they look such an odd ensemble, but it’s in the expressions worn in their eyes and on their faces too. Art School (aka Warren Clarke) carries a demonic look all night as he writhes centre stage in a shower of his own perspiration. To his right the Librarian (aka Al Doyle) seems deeply troubled, carrying a frown through much of the show.
Brains (far right, aka Alexis Taylor) is a fascinating character, not just because he has large luminous green spectacles like the Thunderbirds’ resident geek – it’s his motions, which revolve from blankly staring into nowhere, darting his focus intently on his keyboard, before bursting with emotion as he moves forward to sing.
To his right, Cactus Jack (aka Joe Goddard) is a bouncing furball of euphoria who could not stop smiling through the 75 minutes. And the Nerd (far left, aka Felix Martin) poked at his controls and kept his hand in his pocket like all modest, shy nerds should do.
It’s apparent the quintet are tiring of playing the Warning on their endless tour schedule and freshen the show with a series of instantly likeable new songs which are completely alien to their lo-fi debut Coming On Strong (though they drop a few of these gems). It makes the Warning sound like a mere footbridge to an imminent masterpiece – this band so need a break and studio time.
But how can you deprive them, or us, the inevitable route from 93 Feet East to the Astoria to Brixton to *tsk* Wembley. More than anything, this is a live experience that I implore you to experience at least once in your life.
You will not get a five-piece band guitar band with matching threads swigging beer and giving a plodding playback of their studio work. Your synapses will be invaded and despatched to move you to Tchaparian and Breakdown. You will revel in the reworks of the now slower, more chilled Boy From School, the barely recognisable electro-psychedelia of Careful, the free flowing jam of No Fit State, while joining in the mass freak-out to Over and Over.
Hot Chip creep through your pores and massage you in waves, lifting your metabolism within biological limits. In other words, in Hot Chip live, you have here a perfectly legal, risk-free pill which will leave your pupils dilated and a grin on your face, without so much as a gurn mark on your lips.