Slow Club // The Crescent, York // 14.12.16
Anyone familiar with Slow Club over their ten-year career will be aware of how seriously they take their Northern roots, and The Crescent before the new year turned out to be the perfect environment for such Yorkshire pride. The former working men’s club sported a sparse set-up; a semi-carpeted stage with one amp supported by a single discarded brick, its simplicity was more than enough for the band’s stripped down style.
Settling into their new album, One Day All of This Won’t Matter Any More, the Sheffield duo revelled in the luxury of choice, opting for a mixed selection taken from their previous three critical successes in addition to this year’s release. A soulful rendition of their hit ‘Two Cousins’ nestled amongst the powerful vibrato of ‘Tears of Joy’ and the slow groove of the recent ‘Ancient Rolling Sea’ exhibited the range of their work, united by the same passion and soulful energy. Years of practice have perfected the structure of their set, and their moves seemed well-practiced and deliberate despite having had no visible set list. The focus moved between the two as both Charles and Rebecca took their turn in the spotlight. With seamless fluidity, they transitioned between ensemble and solo songs. Forgoing supporting instrumentation in their individual efforts, one would perform while the other stepped back and watched from the side until the two re-joined for the next duet.
The venue’s familiar atmosphere encouraged a unique intimacy. Tangents of casual conversation broke down any remaining barriers between the pair and their audience, and they both soon confessed to being “a bit sozzled” after a particularly confused exchange with a crowd member. But it was a spontaneity that thrived in the informal climate, and the drink appeared to serve them well, as the performance felt raw and sincere without losing any precision or edge. The force of Rebecca’s voice cut through the room before melting into Charles’ softer, closer murmur. They chose their harmonies carefully – singing largely in unison and saving any experimentation for a fuller impact. It worked exquisitely, as heart-breaking lines were magnified by the bursts of compelling harmony. After a faux encore break (“Just pretend we’ve left and have come back again”), the pair returned for a run of their Christmas material. For their final two songs – their own anthem ‘Christmas TV’ and a cover of Darlene Love’s festive favourite ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’ – they moved to the edge of the stage and played unplugged. Sustaining the festive cheer, Rebecca attempted to rouse audience participation in a sing-a-long to close the night, giggling at its questionable success as she playfully imitated the missing trumpet solo.
With their rapport – between the crowd and one another – and the inevitable Christmas spirit permeating the air, Slow Club curated a blissful show that reinforced the “community” in The Crescent Community Venue.