We braved the nippy breeze on Wednesday night as we skulked along the embankment on the way to King’s College Student Union. Upon arrival we were filled with an overwhelming urge to go straight to the bar for a snakebite. What is it about student unions?! Maybe they pumped the scent of those sickly sweet student favourites into the lift on the way up to the 4th floor venue. Whatever it was, we managed to resist.
Californian sisters Haim are here as part of their UK tour. This month, they’re headlining. KCLSU isn’t a bad little venue, it’s got nice chandeliers, it’s a good shape, there’s plenty of snakebite on the floor… you know, pretty decent on the whole. Next month they’re off on tour again with Florence And The Machine and will be playing two dates at the O2. That’s a jump from a capacity of around 600 to the gigantic 20,000 arena at the O2. Gulp!
Supporting them this time around are 5 young lads from Liverpool, Death At Sea: an indie band not quite as clean as Bombay Bicycle Club but not quite as dirty as The Cribs. They took to the stage on Wednesday and fearlessly and energetically bashed out their small catalogue of tunes to the packed-out KCLSU. Their live show’s very much a work in progress, but that’s not to say that it was lacking by any means. Perhaps just a touch too fresh and new to command the audience as much as they’d like, but the songs are there and the energy’s there, so it’s only a matter of time until these boys are filling venues around the country by themselves.
Haim, though, looked ready to take on 20,000. They strode out on stage and won hearts, ears and dancing feet almost immediately. We weren’t exactly sure how Haim’s sound would translate into their live show. Truth is, it’s even better than their records—the sign of a really, really good band. On record they have studio snaps, pops and wizardry running through their tunes, which gives them a really unique Jefferson Airplane meets TLC bizarre kind of concoction that just works, because they make it work. Live, though, the elements of this are still there, but they rock. They even dropped in a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’ which deserves a monumental ‘hats off’! On stage, the studio techniques are replaced by tribal drumming as the sisters beat out the tracks, while their locks swing and sway back and forth. They’re hypnotic, they were completely relaxed on stage, quipping about shout-outs and dedications for songs and youngest sister Alana’s (short) shorts, and they provided some of the most danceable live music we’ve seen in ages. Finishing on ‘Forever’ (below), which well and truly brought the house down.
We left smitten, and as we passed through the SU doors, we were reminded what a damn good choice it was to resist the snakebite as we practically stepped over a far-gone student strewn across the steps. What a scholar!
Words by Jim Pilling.