It would be easy to take Hot Chip for granted. Since 2004, the five musicians in the band have been cooking up dancefloor-friendly, festival-ready hits so there’s always a chance that the audience just wouldn’t turn up for them at Oxegen (see also Glasto).
Well it wasn’t a rammed tent but the Heineken Green Spheres tent for the duration of Hot Chip’s set was the place to be if you’re asking. From the off, the five-piece with added live drummer, played with gusto, verve and had fun doing so – certainly if there is an award for “band having most fun on stage” Hot Chip would take the gong, pushed over the top by Owen Clarke’s ridiculously camp but suitable dance moves, when he couldn’t confine himself to his synth any longer, which was frequently.
Starting with their once-biggest single to date ‘Boy From School’ was a statement of dancing intent, and suggested this was a band comfortable enough with their catalogue and indeed, they should be. ‘One Life Stand’ brought an eruption of dancing in the arena and songs like ‘Over and Over’, ‘One Pure Thought’, ‘Hand Me Down Your Love’ (complete with a beefed-up house piano), ‘Take It In’, ‘We Feel Love’ and ‘I Feel Better’ were delivered with no breaks in-between meaning dancing non-stop. By the time ‘Ready For The Floor’ is dispensed we’re almost ready to lie down. Hot Chip, we won’t forget your skills and silky dancing again.
Our absolute highlight on the night was Kele, the former(?) Bloc Party frontman in his rejuvenated solo role. State was shocked to find only about 300-400 people at the front of the stage with the back of the tent completely bereft of people.
His recently released debut solo album The Boxer had sparks of brilliance taking in disco, electro and dance but the album’s tracks are much more suitable in a live setting. Kele himself looked refreshed, less anxious, relaxed and crucially, like he was having a lot of fun, which translated well to the audience. With a strip lighting-assisted stage setup and three other band members playing the songs, Kele was free to roam about. Opening with album track number one, ‘Walk Tall’ , it becomes immediately apparent that we are here to dance not mope and as soon as that song’s electro-squelch take-off comes over the speakers, limbs are flailing about in unison.
From there, it never really lets up. The big surprise of the night is just how many Bloc Party (a band he describes as “sleeping”) songs he does. A strong medley of ‘Blue Light’, ‘The Prayer’ and the house-tinged radio edit of ‘One More Chance’ is remixed to match the new live band setup. The songs are at their best though, when they leave behind his impassioned and slower vocal style of old and instead, try new styles like with ‘On The Lam’ and with ‘Walk Tall’ in particular. Expected highlight ‘Tenderoni’ prompts a rush to the front as Kele leads the audience in spelling out the ‘T-E-N-D-E-R-O-N-I’. It’s a great moment and one topped off, for Bloc Party enthusiasts with a final Bloc Party rendition with ‘Flux’. At this rate, with this much fun happening onstage, you wouldn’t be surprised to see Kele not go back to Bloc Party at all.
Photo: Sara Devine