London Grammar @ Riverstage, 7th March
The Riverstage is quietly buzzing beneath a full moon. It’s a warm and hazy sort of night and the crowd mostly sit on the grassy hill, picnicking or lying down, looking up at the sky; the atmosphere is chilled from the get go.
Brooklyn trio, Wet, take the stage and carefully introduce us to their unique blend of cool and sharp electronica. The band members stand, each in their own world, rocking and swaying to a private, internal rhythm. Petite vocalist, Kelly Zutrau, says a few Americanised words for each song before blowing everyone away with the depth of her tone, the crispness of her edges. Showcasing high reverb and powerful synths, it’s clear that the band gain no superficial talent from a studio, performing immaculate renditions of crowd-pleasers from their EP: Dreams and Don’t Want To Be Your Girl.
After a brief stage rearrangement, the crowd starts chanting for the ones they came to see. Sure enough, from shadowy corners come Dominic and Dan, cast in silhouette. They start to set the scene, layering echoey synths and delicate guitar riffs, which cut through the sleepy air. Hannah enters from the right, and hums, her magnificent and chilling voice fills the arena.
It’s a stunning start to the show. A long, noodling introduction leads into a powerful rendition of Hey Now, as the band members play beneath flashing lights and surreal, film noir visuals. As the song progresses, colour drains onto the stage; we see the sun rise on a city projected on a screen behind. The strength of Hannah’s voice is incredible, just as powerful in high notes as in low, and as the song ends and trails into the next, the crowd’s adoration for London Grammar is apparent.
We hear a bongo-filled Darling Are You Gonna Leave Me, which melds into the delicate Interlude as a softly-lit string quartet are revealed on an elevated stage. The strings gently introduce the bass, as Hannah and Dominic harmonise sweetly, when the keyboard fades away, they chat to the audience and it’s obvious how comfortable they are with their talent, each other, the stage, and the crowd. They launch into Shyer – a synth-heavy version with thick electronic bass, grittier than the album version – then Wasting My Young Years, which pounds through with heavy drum kicks and ethereal visual displays.
We hear all the beloved tracks of the album: Flickers, Sights, Stay Awake, Nightcall. Hannah never misses a note, never strays from her powerful melodies, and the trio are perfectly in sync. They surprise us with electronic breakdowns like the one in Flickers, as flashing lights, lasers, and fast-tracked projections paint the stage in red and gold. They finish with Strong, and sparks fly behind them as the audience sings every word, utterly besotted.
The encore brings a simple and very beautiful acoustic version of If You Wait, as Hannah croons alone at the keyboard. The night ends with a highly-energised Metal and Dust, with added electronic detail and a mind-boggling light show. We are left very much in love.