Brooklyn-based synth-pop duo Chairlift are back with their third studio album Moth, a good four years since 2012’s Something. And following an outing of the new album at Hackney’s Oslo venue in December, the group were back in London for one of only two European stops, this time hitting up King’s Cross’s historic Scala venue.
Comprised of Caroline Polachek on vocals and synths, and Patrick Wimberly on drums, bass and keyboards, the duo came together in 2007 with Wimberly joining an early Chairlift formed by Polachek and Aaron Pfenning. Following early success with 2008’s Does You Inspire You, Pfenning left the group leaving behind the current make-up of Polachek and Wimberly.
Kicking things off with Moth opener Look Up, Wimberly took up position behind drums as an accompanying bass player and saxophonist took to the stage for its instrumental lead-in, Polachek appearing in dramatic style a short while into the track to huge cheers from an adoring crowd. She paraded about the stage wearing a white coat before shedding the layer to reveal a flowing red top encased in light ropes and black reptile-skin trousers.
More from Moth was aired next with Polymorphing upping the tempo, its funk undertones complimented by Polachek’s customary high notes, a gentle head-bop rippling through the Scala audience alongside laughs as Wimberly interjects during the song: “calm the fuck down”.
“Thank you so much, we love coming to London, it’s so good to be back” Polachek said before introducing Something opener Sidewalk Safari “This is an older song, off our second record”.
“Do you say PDA in England?” she asked of the London crowd, “This song is about PDA” she continued, introducing Moth track Show U Off, a nineties R&B flare to the song a call back to radio-friendly tunes from the time, Polachek taking up position behind a synth.
Early Something cut Amanaemonesia brought things back to the more familiar, the nonsensical title gifting it a fun sing-along chorus, Wimberly trading places with the bass-player, producing a funk-tinged bass-driven opening which led into 1980’s electro-pop. “Amanaemonesia, mistaken for magic” Polachek sang, a theme and sound reminiscent of New Zealand’s Ladyhawke alongside the 30-year-old’s haunting solo choral voice.
More from Something followed with I Belong in Your Arms ahead of more Moth material. “Just like the last four songs, this is a love song” the frontwoman quipped, introducing Unfinished Business. The slow build-up and low thumping beat leading to grating vocals for the chorus, live saxophone adding a subtle dimension to the melancholy track.
Introducing heart-on-sleeve Moth cut Crying In Public, the Brooklynite said “I find that the older I get the more I cry, it should be backwards right?”, the downtempo funk rhythm complimented perfectly by her dynamic vocals which switched from low to high between verse and chorus.
“If you guys know the lyrics to this one, please sing along” Polachek said ahead of bounce-along breakthrough first Does You Inspire You track Bruises, which garnered a huge response in 2008 following its use in an Apple iPod nano commercial. And sing along the North London crowd did. New album track Moth To The Flame rounded out the main set, it’s disco-funk feel leading the crowd into a dance.
Following a short break, the quartet returned to the former King’s Cross Cinema stage for brand new song Get Real, a slow groove track with a focus on Polachek’s exquisite vocal range, ridiculous highs being reaching and stunning the awestruck crowd. First single from Moth, Ch-Ching, closed out the night, its modern R&B rhythms sending the crowd on their way in style.
Chairlift head back to North America next for a run of shows across the US and Canada and are back in UK with a stop at Camden’s Electric Ballroom in June.
Live review of Chairlift @ Scala by Kalpesh Patel on 9th March 2016.
The full set of concert photo’s below or on the Rockshot Magazine images gallery http://rockshot.photoshelter.com/gallery/Chairlift/G0000GwNxdEd0z68
Kalpesh has more music photography up on his flickr stream here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/somethingforkate