They’re hot, they’re in a club…if only tonights gig was in gay Pare the stars really would have aligned.
As it is, Hot Club De Paris are wiping copious amounts of sweat from the fevered brows in the middle of their set back in their native Liverpool, framed in the furnace of the Magnet’s dramatic retro fifties stage. “I don’t think I’ve been as hot in my life,” deadpants (sic) guitarist Matthew Smith. “I feel like I’m on holiday…somewhere hot…like Wales.”
“Get naked!” a crowd member helpfully suggests.
The band, fresh from triumphantly packing out the capital’s Scala, take great pleasure in using their local knowledge to name and shame the heckler: “They say you can choose your friends but not your family, but you can’t chose your family friends either,” bassist Paul Rafferty explains. “They’re just friends you wish you didn’t have!”
You can always rely on Hot Club for much dry bonhomie, but despite expectations the atmosphere would sizzle in tonight’s packed, intimate venue, it remains limply lukewarm throughout the first half of their set.
Vigorous head nodding followed by polite applause is as animated as the crowd get, as they seem to be set on appreciating rather than celebrating Hot Club’s undulating experimental fusions of punk-rock and harmonies. Indeed the loudest exclamations to be heard are Rafferty’s trademark yelps, signalling another imminent time-signature hand-break turn.
However, one song can make all the difference to a band, and in this case Hot Club even allow themselves a little mock cheer as their last single Sometimesitsbetter is greeted by the biggest cheer of the night by far. The lads at the front, Stella bottles aloft, find their voice and the night finally begins to come to the boil as the warmth spreads through the basement.
Everything starts to sound that little bit better. A permanent smile replaces Smith’s permanent sweat, with his intriguing fusion of African High Life and Megadeath guitar lines soaring through Your Face Looks All Wrong and new single Shipwreck, before Hot Club conclude by ending with the first song they ever wrote, the wonderfully profane Who Am I? (What’s My Name?).
However, as we head out into the winter’s chill, one cannot help wondering where Hot Club’s laudable and lovable art-rock framework will go next, so the fires are stoked yet again.