Hot Club de Paris are big. Not big in A Kooks way, but in an almost universal, they’re-actually-quite-good-aren’t-they sort of way. Their pop sensibility has won over ‘the kids’, and anyone with an ear for a tune, whilst mentioning the likes of The Minutemen has got them the interest of the musos. Having built a solid following, they’re now used to playing shows far bigger than Ping Pong @ Magnet, but they return for an intimate gig amongst their home crowd.
They begin with their now familiar filth-filled a cappella intro, then spin into ‘I Swung For Judas’ and we are straight into that Hot Club sound. And what a sound, Mersey pop seemingly fed through an over-tuned jet engine. A brilliant combination of the trio’s vocal inventiveness, Paul Rafferty’s bouncing bass base, and the chiming pinball guitar of Matthew Smith, who seems on a mission to ever increase his rate of Notes Per Second as the red walls of the rammed basement start to shine with sweat.
The by now very hot, Hot Club send out an appeal for beer and the DJ gallantly ventures through the heaving crowd, 6-pack in hand. Two cans land at the feet of The Fly but a call for Treasure Trove rights goes sadly unheeded. Suitably refreshed the trio thrust into ‘Snitches Get Stitches’ with renewed vigour. Ah, so it’s the Red Stripe that’s their secret.
A Hot Club show is pure entertainment in itself, but there’s plenty off stuff running about underneath those harmonies. It’s the intricacy of their songs and the subtlety of their lyrics that stops their technique from becoming tiring and gimmicky. As the set goes on they get louder-faster-harder and they work ever greater magic on the audience as they kick into long-titled paean to not shagging,
‘Sometimesitsbetternottostickbitsofeachotherineachother’. For all the odd time signatures and extra angles thrown in they clearly have real control and actually get more exciting when they slide from the tightness of their recorded sound, slipping sharply all over then slotting back into place in the blink of a strobe.
We finish, suitably, on ‘Shipwrecked’, how many of us feel having been on the receiving end of more nervous energy than you’d think possible. The only question that remains is where do HCdP go from here? The problem with hitting on a wonderfully original formula is whether you carry on doing it till people get bored or risk pushing beyond it and losing fans? Will they remain so entertaining in a few years? Who knows, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s these guys.
By Kenn Taylor