Slow Club: The Duchess, 03/04/2012

Slow Club have a habit of gracing York with their presence during university holidays. Last summer, the Sheffield duo played The Duchess in support of their then recently-released sophomore album Paradise. This Easter, they returned to provide a welcome treat to those of us who remained in York to anxiously finish essays and attempt to scrape together something resembling a dissertation.

In what appeared to be good value for money, attendees were provided with three supports acts. In reality, the night became an endurance test for an increasingly impatient crowd. During the second act of the night, pleasant-voiced singer songwriter David McAffrey owned the room with ease. To end his set he abandoned the stage and played amongst the audience with just his acoustic guitar and voice to contend with the chattering crowd. The gutsy move paid off and the venue descended into near-silence whilst he sang. Michele Stodart, the main support act, coped less well with the unpleasant crowd. By mid-way through her set, she had given up attempting to play to the majority of the audience and settled for serenading the politely silent audience members nearest the stage without the use of the microphone. Her gentle folk songs seemed much more fitting in the intimate environment she created during the latter half of her set.

Slow Club entered the stage with the addition of a drummer and bassist. The extra members added punch to the duo’s louder moments and this made the quieter moments even more precious in contrast. This benefitted a band who have a tendency to switch between delicate acoustic moments and loud pop finales. In the same manner that the band easily transitioned between these sounds, front woman Rebecca Taylor flitted between on-stage personas. Between songs, she joked with the same humor that can be found on her Twitter account. During the upbeat numbers, she enthusiastically provided percussion, sipped wine, and refused to let her voice be drowned out by the instruments. However, she triumphed when given the opportunity to flaunt her vocal talents in more serene settings. The highlight of the night was Only If You’re Certain, which Rebecca delivered with such sincerity that it became almost awkward to watch.

It’s often easy to see Rebecca as the prominent member of the duo, yet frontman Charles Watson clearly provides equal worth. A handful of new songs were scattered amongst the set, two of which were slower songs strongly delivered by Charles. Ultimately, however, they perform better together than they do apart. This was most evident during the encore, when the two returned to stage without the extra members to play Paradise track Hackney Marsh together.

Alex Collinson