Saturday, 5 April 2008

Client - Christopher D Ashley - KINDLE

Soho Revue Bar

It’s hot in here. It’s also 1983. In front of a screen showing air-brush vampire flick ‘The Hunger’, a stick-thin figure with Manga comic hair sets his synthesisers to stun and thrashes at a white guitar.

This is KINDLE and he looks every inch the cartoon hero, striking every rock star pose in the book. The electronics thrum and snap, the guitar distorts. The only thing that is lacking is a voice, as without even a snatch of sampled dialogue to cling to, each instrumental bleeds into the next and the show gradually becomes a soundtrack to the film.

If Kindle is an odd name for a single performer, then it’s even odder that Christopher D Ashley is two men. Together they lay down a wash of beats and while one twiddles with knobs and looks worriedly at a laptop screen, the other sings, his voice altered and beefed up by the machines. It’s pleasant enough in a Hot Chip manner, but the duo do go on a bit. And a bit. And a bit. Eventually someone appears from backstage, takes one of them to one side, makes a throat cutting gesture and mouths “Fuck off!” They look upset, but fuck off anyway.

I’ve long found Client to be rather a problem band. They write great pop songs, but to date (and deliberately) their demeanour has been as hard, cold and forbidding as the north face of the Eiger.

So it is astounding to find them toning down the antiseptic sleaze, and rocking out with cheerful abandon. Unusually for a predominately electronic band, they have completely re-jigged their sound, and songs such as “Money” and “Pornography” rattle along at least twice the speed of previous performances. The newer material from latest album “Heartland” sits well in a set that seems like a triumphant culmination of all that they have been working towards.

In deference to the band’s contrived penchant for anonymity I will say that the band have never been more animated, with Client A laughing like a drain at a keyboard malfunction that results in a sound like a knackered cowbell, prompting Client B to lead the crowd in staccato handclaps to fill in for the dying instrument. The impressively statuesque Client (letter designation unknown) models her bass guitar and slyly smiles at the sweaty throng in front of her.

The finale is a chaotic and gleeful rendition of the old Adam and the Ant chestnut ‘Zerox Machine’.

Client look to have put their former glacial chill firmly behind them. Who says that global warming is a bad thing?

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