Review by Mike Emerson
I really do hate moths, and strawberries too. I also hate bare faced ignorance, yet for none of these do I reserve the same contempt as is left purely for trains. Pretty much all locomotives that is, yet especially those eleventeen carriage, Richard Branson owned, miniature merlot serving bastards. Before I boarded the 21:07 northern service back home on Sunday night (this particular journey consisted of an excessively lubricated Chelsea fan attempting to initiate a ‘harlem shake’ on coach C, which – to the disgust of my cynicism – resulted in actual human people participating/embarrassing themselves at will) I attempted to catch the train to Manchester to see Chateaux & Great Waves supporting Egyptian Hip Hop. Low and behold, said train is inexcusably late and thus I miss the first band. I guess, as idol of no-one Meatloaf once said, two out of three ain’t bad.
On with the show then. It should be known that if you too suffer from extreme stress levels at even the slightest whiff of problematic Londoners, Great Waves (insert spaces as you deem necessary) are the band to see. I’d go as far as to say that their live show should be prescribed to those suffering anxiety disorders. I mean, it’s just fucking blissful. As the mushroom cloud of dry ice envelopes your entire self, the music lifts you straight up out of the venue and into some hypnotic ooze. Opening with ‘Are Calling‘, the pair dish out a synth line which is wide enough to slip inside, as frontman David de Lacy lobs those beautiful lyrics over the top; “Throw your heart on the table, We can sleep in the morning”.
The whole aesthetic is nigh-on perfect too – deep blue light bathes the stage, with the twosome holding an aura of anonymity throughout the performance. This isn’t perceived as cocky or pre-conceived though, more intrigue and mystery. From then on (as with most Great Waves performances) I can’t really explain what happened. It’s the kind of experience in which you never attempt to write things down, or even fill the brain with mental notes – you just have to surrender yourself to the there and now. In summary, I know the songs, but not the setlist. It takes quite a while to come down. One surefire way to speed up my recovery process (if not for any other reason than jealousy) is by getting your lead singer to enter the stage wearing a heavily patterned Oscar Wilde-esque gown. That’ll be Egyptian Hip Hop then.
We all know the story. Four sprightly 17-year-old lads from Marple release a series of catchy tunes some four years back, the hype cart picks up their (odd) name, NME predict them to be the saviours of some (odd) made up genre, and some form of label bidding war ensues. With the foundations just about set, they suddenly seemed to disappear off the face of the earth. Good job too, as when they rather quietly resurfaced late last year with debut album ‘Good Don’t Sleep’, they were a much better band. I’m sure they’re sick to death of hearing it and being patronised over and over, but tonight they do look, sound and feel much more grown up. To some degree, it’s a much more united sound.
There’s still a reference to be drawn to the late ‘world music’ section that sulked at the back of HMV though, in that sounds and influences just seem to come from absolutely everywhere. There are definite tangible lines that form the basis of the tracks, for example that convexing keys melody on ‘SYH‘, but it’d still never be a choreographers choice of tune (which is a shame as some of the dance moves on display down front were way more interesting than those I witnessed on Coach C).
There’s an element of complexity throughout, and just as you think you’ve sussed out the timings and the rhythm, in comes another element. It has certainly gone some way to becoming measured though, without restricting the band’s endless fountain of ideas. At one point lead singer Alex Hewitt dives down into the crowd to throw some hexagons with the rest, and in that lies the most successful element of EHH’s Gorilla performance – It’s fucking fun. It’s music that (on record) requires a little more concentration than a passive listen, but in the live setting it just all kicks together. New single ‘Tobago‘ is a great example of this, as whilst yes, it decides to saunter through alternating octaves into a fuzzy pysch wig-out, the crowd are still having a go. It’s almost impossible to dance to, yet not at all.
They’ve reached a nice balance where they’ve become a proper, genuine band, without losing any of what made them interesting way back when, and they’ve honed it well into a live experience. It’s not easy to predict where they go from here, but there are definitely no ballads about broken hearts coming from these boys any time soon. Strange as ever, Egyptian Hip Hop continue to confuse.
Egyptian Hip Hop performed at Gorilla on Friday 8th March 2013. The event was promoted by SJM Concerts.
You can read more from Mike Emerson via his Blogspot HERE