Clean Bandit have made waves with their classically-infused electronic music. Getintothis‘ Steph Niciu attends their sold out show to soak it all up.
Back in 2009, four students from the University of Cambridge, by the names of Jack and Luke Patterson, Grace Chatto and Milan Neil Amin- Smith, were not your average undergraduates. Heck, in between all of their studying, they actually came together to form Clean Bandit.
Since the release of their debut album, New Eyes, they have made their name as the electronic band with a classical twist. When they performed their sold out show at the 02 Academy, we felt that they had invited us to one hell of a party.
Before the main attraction, there was support from Years & Years. The band brought to the stage their glacial cool electro pop, tracks like Take Shelter and Real were all about throbbing beats and slick, polished grooves. What really gives added dimension to the band is a certain Olly Alexander’s vocal.
At only 24-years-old, his voice is soulful and he has a killer falsetto which he unleashed for extra bite. During the piano based Eyes Shut, Alexander was all you could focus on.
It was a shame that throughout, the acoustics weren’t great. The sound was too loud and overwhelming, so you felt that you couldn’t fully appreciate his vocal. Still, the crowd lapped it up and Alexander was a hit with screaming girls vying for his attention, as they found his charms impossible to resist.
We didn’t have long to wait before the stars of the night appeared. The crowd were buzzing with anticipation and getting antsy. The lights went down and we were teased with the sound of strings before Clean Bandit emerged. And right from the off, we knew that we were in for a good time.
Their live set was bursting with energy and as the night wore on, we were roused by their winning formula of electro, flutters of strings, breakdowns and powerhouse vocals from the two leading ladies: Elizabeth Troy and Florence Rawlings.
The fusion of styles was evident not just in the music but the staging as well. The vocalists provided attitude and sass while Chatto, Amin- Smith and co let their instruments do the talking. At various points in the show, they all came together for a bit of a dance and it was clear that they were having just as much fun as the crowd.
Clean Bandit performed Real Love as part of their opening. Another collaboration with the mighty Jess Glynne. But it has to be said that, even though all the elements of a Clean Bandit hit were there, it just didn’t have the zing of previous smash Rather Be and this was reflected in the crowd’s reaction.
Grace and Jack sang together on Dust Clears, but again, the acoustics meant that Chatto’s vocal was swallowed up, which was unfortunate as it was a key element of the track.
The trouble is that when you’ve got a musical formula that is so effective, it works but you risk your tracks sounding a bit, well, samey. It was the singles that really got the crowd going. Come Over with the help of Elizabeth Troy’s vocal (and rapping) took the party to a new height. And, then they gave us a taster of their new track, Stronger.
Now, that will be another Clean Bandit hit, for sure. By the time we got to Extraordinary, the crowd were well and truly revved up and we all had a massive sing-a-long. Mozart’s House featured an utterly intoxicating violin solo from Milan. And by the encore, we were chanting for their return.
They returned alright. And with the most streamed song of 2014 so far, Rather Be. As soon as Milan began the violin intro, the crowd were whipped into a frenzy. And it was awesome.
Undoubtedly, these guys have built their success on a sound which is really innovative. They know the best way to use it and their fans have fallen in love. The band have a formula that they stick to by the letter. But we can’t help but feel that there will come a time when Clean Bandit will need to switch their sound up to keep things interesting.
Pictures by Getintothis‘ Tom Adam