Having made several attempts to write a coherent/enjoyable/insightful piece about Slow Club's gig since they played Gloucester Guildhall on Thursday 26 February, I'm going to admit defeat and just spew out some thoughts that came to mind while I was there - otherwise referred to as a real music reviewer's first draft. Here goes:
1. It was very clear from the off that Rebecca and Charles really like and really enjoy performing their songs. I get the impression that Complete Surrender was exactly the album they wanted to make.
2. I read one review that said that Rebecca had "lungs like parachutes". I'm not going to disagree - her voice is as raw and as emotive and as affecting as they come and it reaches heights that few contemporary singers can achieve. She's one of the best vocalists out there, and I can say that having listened to an inordinate amount of music by British female singer-songwriters over the past ten years. However, Charles should be praised as well. While his voice may not be as big as Rebecca's, I looked forward to his solos just as much. He plays a big vocal part on the new album. Spurred on by Rebecca's ability, he's obviously worked hard on his own - and it's paid off. Some of my favourite songs from Complete Surrender features him as the principal vocalist.
3. A few songs into their gig and I was reminded of a a quote about Tilda Swinton by film director David Fincher: “She doesn’t announce her presence, she just slowly steals all the gravity.” I don't want to inflate anyone's ego here, but Rebecca did that with her voice. Her stage presence is quite astonishing.
4. I was struck by how modest and unfussy their songs are. They're very lean things that are unburdened of excess, frivolity or ornamentation.
5. I also realised afterwards that I didn't notice any of the instruments at any point during the show. I've ruminated over this point a great deal since. I think this derives from their lack of ostentation. It's not the case that their playing didn't stand out, but rather more to do with the fact that it blends so well with how they sing and what they're singing about that it becomes inconspicuous to the overall message of the song rather than slipping down the road of sentimentality.
6. Rebecca has a career in comedy if she wants it. I won't link the duck face sketch - let's just say she's hilarious and leave it at that. Follow her on Twitter. It'll be the best choice you make today.
7. I was at a Lianne La Havas gig a few years back and I remember thinking how angry her songs were towards men. While Slow Club's songs aren't as overtly angry as La Havas' (Rebecca has a much more philosophical outlook when it comes to matters of the heart), it made me wonder what would happen to Slow Club's style, output and roles within the band if Rebecca found the right man. And she will find him eventually.
8. The duet clearly have a lot of respect for one another.
9. They have earned their dues. Their albums have progressively improved and they deserve a Mercury Prize nomination or an appearance on Jools Holland. They'd wipe the floor with some of the clowns that appear on that show.
10. If they don't hit the big time (although I have every confidence that they will), then I hope they continue to record and perform because they will always have a loyal fan base. I've not been to an exceptional number of gigs, but I've listened to enough music to know that Slow Club are the real deal. They're a duet to follow very closely.