London, The Lexington
March 5th 2013
Meaty, beaty, big and bouncy – Willow Colios finds much to enjoy at the Concrete Knives show at the Lexington.
Before they start playing Concrete Knives go into a pre-match huddle like a team in a Champions League game. Normally I like football but tonight I couldn’t give a shit about it. It just pales in comparison to music, particularly when you can see an excellent young band in such a small venue on a Tuesday night instead.
Concrete Knives, a French band named deliberately in English as something nonsensical – something that doesn’t exist in the world. Signed to an English label, Bella Union, they blend indie rock, afro beat and take to the stage confidently tonight. The first song sounds huge. Like an anchor for the whole set ‘Greyhound Racing’ rumbles then explodes, setting the tone for the whole evening. It’s meaty, beaty, big and bouncy.
Second track ‘Africanize’ has even more rhythmic interplay between the drummer and additional percussion from the keyboard player. It has been a year since I’ve seen Concrete Knives and something’s different. They have the slightly shy yet at the same time assured charm as before but maybe through making their debut ‘Be Your Own King’ and with more and more touring they are just more galvanized. They play like one organism, by instinct moving and playing in unison. Like a well drilled back four maybe. I know I just said football was bullshit but singer Nicolas Delahaye has just started asking the crowd about Arsene Wenger.
There are two stars in this band in dual front man and woman Nicolas and Morgane but all five members are all part of crafting their unique sound. They play ‘Bornholmer’ the first track on their debut LP and it reminds me of the Wannadies with delicate keyboards, and the whole band singing in unison.
The onstage Gallic banter is hilarious and oh so slightly inebriated but the playing isn’t suffering at all. ‘If you want to be played on French radio you have to record a cover’ says Nicolas before the band finish off the set with Ini Kamoze’s ‘Here comes the ‘Hotstepper’.
And that’s it. No messing, no encores, no airing of their three minute pop masterpiece ‘Happy Mondays’. “What’s French for one more song?” someone shouts. But tonight Concrete Knives leave us wanting more. A top notch performance from a band you can’t help but love, with the confidence to leave hit singles in the dressing room.
All words by Willow Colios. More work on Louder Than War by Willow Colios can be found here.