Live Review

Star Slinger + Keep Shelly In Athens, Madame JoJos, London

A debut show full of heart and full of promise.

’I’m not a DJ, I’m a producer.’ That’s how Star Slinger introduced himself at Great Escape a few weeks ago. DJ/Producer, honestly it’s all total tomarto/tomayto to me, but that don’t matter a scrap when what the producer’s producing is such a blast. Brighton was an Avalanches-esque cut’n’shut partyparty set, tonight is a smoother, clubbier more soulful sound, but just as playful, just as sweet.

Tonight’s also beset by technical glitch. Star Slinger’s got a new toy he’s not played with much, think it was called a ‘Mono’, either way it’s full of flicks, kicks and tricks, lights up like happy robot eyes. When it’s working it layers up the sound a treat. And when it’s not? Well it ain’t slick, Rick. But who cares? You might wonder how much of these shows are pre-programmed, you might wonder if the dancing fingers and head-down techy concentration are sleight-of-hand or smoke and mirrors. A bit of broke confirms the human element, adds fragility to the show. And when the gear’s switched and he breaks out his peerless Gold Panda remix then all the Mono fail is forgotten in an instant.

There might not be any smoke and mirrors about Keep Shelly In Athens, but they have definitely been hiding behind the curtains. Nothing much has been given away about the band’s identity; the pictures of the singer have mostly been swirly’n’blurry and, well, actually I thought it was a duo, but tonight there’s four of them on stage in total. Hidden behind hoods, drums, keyboard and guitar the boys seem pretty confident, seem plenty happy to be on stage but Sarah P, with just a mic stand to hide behind seems a trifle nervous, a touch shy. Given that this is maybe their third ever gig, and the first UK one, some jitters are understandable.

The tempo from the records is upped a notch live, it gives us a bit more Balearic bang for our buck but still grips tight to that mournful timbre. When it comes together, as it does on ‘Hauntin’ Me’, it’s fills the room gloriously, is mesmeric (yeah, that word’s an easy cliché here, but hey, clichés become clichés for a reason, mostly because they’re the right word at the right time way-too-often). Trouble is, and can’t tell if it’s dodgy sound or if the nerves tell too much, it doesn’t quite come together often enough. The vocals seem too distant, it feels like swimming underwater in a pool with the party happening up above; you can hear the muffled fun, but you’re separate from it, not quite part of the action. The sense of detachment is a little too strong. No matter though, this is a debut show full of heart and full of promise, a welcome glimpse behind the curtain. We can be glad Shelly ain’t in Athens anymore.

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