A smattering of applause greets World’s End Press as they step out to stretch along the front of the stage, packed with a phenomenal amount of equipment. If there is one band in this city playing the long game it’s these guys, and it shows. Singer John Parkinson’s voice is stronger and more expressive than it’s ever been, and his hyperkinetic performance makes them electrifying to watch as well as move to. Newer songs take their Moroder-like chug, add arresting vocal harmonies, some monolithic bass and send it into the stratosphere; every song sounds like a 12” remix of a hit. Echoes of Japan, Human League and Talking Heads may be touchstones but the band are such meticulous musicians and arrangers that their sound is all their own. Final song Someone’s Daddy is the strongest example yet that they’re ready to break out in a huge way, and it’s no surprise they leave to peals of rapturous cheers.
By now all four levels of the Palace are full and the crowd, broad in age range and dress style, are clearly amped. Suddenly, the stage lights die, strobes blast, bursts of percussion erupt and Hot Chip emerge, waving and launching into Shake A Fist. For a bunch of demure British men who would look more at home around a kitchen table playing Dungeons and Dragons than making a crowd of thousands react as if One Direction gatecrashed a slumber party, they know how to bring it. Following up with Boy From School and new single Don’t Deny the Heart, the crowd soon becomes a writhing, flailing mess. Now featuring New Young Pony Club drummer Sarah Jones, there is a fluid accuracy to the band’s playing and the humanity inherent in singer Alex Taylor’s lyrics stops even a hint of mechanisation to what is partially programmed music. Writer of some of the greatest songs about loving fellow men (whether physically or in a more genial ‘matey’ way is enticingly vague), Taylor is a brilliant example of how an intelligent, literate writer and composer can make intelligent and literate pop seem innately appealing to people who hate the term literate being applied to music.
Tonight is their last show of a ten-month tour, so unsurprisingly the set is tighter than Jones’ snare drum. Now five albums into their career, with a ream of modern dance classics to draw from, the newer work segues smoothly into the floor fillers. Flutes, Over and Over, Ready For the Floor (which leads into a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere) and the gentle mid-set drift of Look At Where We Are (and it’s hint of Prince’s If I Was Your Girlfriend) are sequenced perfectly.
Howled back on for a bashful encore, Al Doyle (not only playing five instruments in Hot Chip, but also a recent multi-instrumentalist for LCD Soundsystem) explains how loved we are before airing the rarely-heard Crap Kraft Dinner, a sterling I Feel Better and the anthemic album highlight Let Me Be Him; a thumping finish to a stunning gig. There are few bands attracting so large a crowd with this sort of music, and that they do it entirely on the quality of the songs and an absence of concession to trends makes their success all the more admirable.