Clean Bandit are going to get very, very big. If Human Drizzle were a marketing agency, that is what we might describe as the ‘key takeout’ from Saturday night’s barnstorming show at London’s 1500-capacity Brixton Electric.
Human Drizzle isn’t a marketing agency, so we won’t – but the point remains. We have made our feelings on Clean Bandit very clear, have had the pleasure of seeing them several times in the past – and while their previous shows have been full of mischievous energy and vibrant melody, they have also been pretty much identical. We’re not going to sit here and tell you that finishing your set with a cover of Dario G’s seminal ‘Sunchyme’ is in any way a bad thing (it’s not) but it’s not a trick that bears much repeating.
All of which explains our delight at the sheer novelty of Saturday’s set – with a veritable avalanche of new material. ‘Novelty’ is a word Clean Bandit must fight against, and it is true that the classical elements could occasionally be better-integrated with their overall sound. Violinist Neil Amin-Smith spends more time grooving than playing, and a closer interplay between strings and beats (as on brilliant debut single ‘Mozart’s House’) would counter accusations that the presence of a violin and a cello constitute little more than gimmickry.
The fact is though, that these are minor gripes when the tunes are so good. ‘Dust Clears’ is a triumph and ‘A&E’ has the place jumping, but it is the new ones that are most revealing. A track that will presumably be called ‘No Place I’d Rather Be’ reeks of chart success. It encapsulates Clean Bandit’s blend of 90s nostalgia and contemporary sensibilities, of intelligence and fun, and (at the risk of sounding like Louis Walsh) it has ‘hit record’ written all over it.
Clean Bandit also deserve credit for their live show. On Saturday they were fronted by Elisabeth Troy, who lent her vocals to bona fide classics like MJ Cole’s ‘Crazy Love’ and, still more prestigiously, appeared on these pages last year following a collaboration with B Traits. Several other singers appeared during the set, including the charismatic Ssegawa-Ssekintu Kiwanuka for ‘Mozart’s House’.
Some feel that the rotating cast of vocalists is distracting, but it also keeps things fresh and diverts attention away from the traditional frontperson onto the (incredibly talented) musicians around them. The aforementioned strings can be genuinely affecting, while the Patterson brothers comprise a compelling rhythm section at the back of the stage. Jack beavers away masterfully on a variety of instruments, devices and controllers whilst younger brother Luke is a blur of frenzied control on the drums. Crucially, and unlike many artists performing ‘live’, there is a visible correlation throughout between action and sound.
With the definition of live performance increasingly problematic, there is a real sense when watching Clean Bandit that you are witnessing something unique. And if you want to do so in small(ish) venues, we suggest you get on it soon – because they’re about to be huge.