4/11/14 – Paradise Rock Club

Shrouded by swirling fog, the silhouette of a siren sang out a chorus of ‘hey now’s, luring the crowd towards the stage, drawing them closer like lovesick sailors doomed for the rocky cliffs. The voice of London Grammar’s Hannah Reid held captive nearly a thousand pairs of ears at Paradise Rock Club last Friday. Yet what was more mesmerizing was, in fact, her silence.

Much like the mind-blowing Rhye show at the Royale earlier this year, here was a band that drew out their album in a way that didn’t feel stretched. Save for a few older additions (like the bongo-filled “Flickers” which was paired, appropriately, with flashing, flickering lights), London Grammar relied on expanding their debut album. They extended the driving drumbeat and The xx-style guitar lines of “Wasting My Young Years,” and Hannah sustained suspense with long pauses that often faked out those iPhone-wielding concertgoers. Thumbs hovered over circular red buttons, uncertain of when a song had actually ended, hoping to capture the dynamic performance put on by this British trio. Certainly a highlight was the cover of Kavinsky’s “Nightcall” (part of the Drive soundtrack) which had the crowd singing along, and Hannah repeatedly busting out entrancing “tell me how’s.

Even the look of the show matched that of the band: hazy red and blue lights matched the look of their album artwork, and the ghostly fog was reminiscent of their anonymous beginnings. With tracks like the intimate “Interlude,” the physical set up put Hannah and Dot side-by-side, the piano and drums next to each other, their voices coming together for the choruses.

Perhaps it was the chilly blasts of the AC at the venue – as drummer Dot Major put it, “I will say, this has got to be the coldest stage I’ve ever played on” – but it took a while for the band to warm up to the crowd. Although by the end, Hannah had chattered away about festivals and called out the predictable, somewhat hypocritical nature of built-in encores. Fittingly, the act ended with “Stay Awake With Me.”

London Grammar has learned to put on quite the show, but perhaps if they stray from the album a bit more and extend the set with an extra cover or two, the crowd will be left fully transfixed. Who knows, those sirenic songs might even bring the audience crashing into the rocks… erm, stage.

London Grammar: "Strong" Indeed
  • Packed with wonderful improvisation & jamming
  • Spellbinding
  • Missing those few extra covers that aren’t on their album
  • Short set
8.6Overall Score

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