Fenech-Soler - Heaven, London - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Fenech-Soler - Heaven, London

by Leonora Walters Rating: Release Date:

Arriving at Heaven was more like descending into hell, what with uncommunicative bouncers and a 20 minute wait in the London cold, despite the fact the venue was meant to have opened half an hour earlier with the first band due on stage. But this rocky start was in no way reflected what followed on stage, while bar attendants and staff inside were the complete opposite to their colleagues on the door, albeit a little disorganised at any sign of a queue.

Opening band Get People fortunately had not started, and did not officially until nearly an hour after advertised. I say officially, because the three members of Get People (Dom, Caspar and Martin) were on stage for that hour, ostensibly setting up their kit and testing equipment (I first thought they were roadies) but seemed to be providing longer and longer interludes of music with each 'test. These included drum bursts, but also sequences of electro dance music and ambient interludes, which formed the base and introductions of their songs.

Eventually they performed three songs, delivered by one singer plus guitarist, drums and a good deal of mixing equipment. These included two Apple Macs upon one of which was a small pineapple. This was not just a decoration, during the second and third songs the lead singer picked it up, cradled it and waved it around as he sang. The songs were rock, softened by the electronic music, in keeping with the theme of the night. All the performers could generally be described as playing electro-pop, though I would argue that all are definitely more rock than pop. With regard to the pineapple, I am still not sure if it was real or plastic.

Next up was Viktoria Modesta, who sang to a certain extent like a cabaret singer but with a heavy baseline and electronic dance music underneath. Viktoria's fusion was also apparent in her presentation - she was dressed in a black, bondage-style all-in-one but both her and the guitarist had elaborate 1950s up-dos - more Paloma Faith or Noisettes than rock chick. Her drummer, meanwhile, was a very dapper young man attired nicely in white shirt and trousers. The retro/modern contrast was also apparent on the stage with what looked like film reel turning in the background - whether some kind of mixing equipment or just decoration. If you are interested in Viktoria's eclectic mix, by the way, she is performing at the Hoxton Bar & Grill in Hoxton Square, London, on November 23.

The penultimate support act came in the form of David Sugar, who combined singing with a great deal of mixing, and included some funky baselines, albeit in the context of electro-pop. David commanded the stage just off centre in an immaculate white suit, moving between his equipment and singing - into a phone for one of the songs.

Finally it was time for the headline act, up-and-coming band Fenech Soler, whose style has been variously described as electro-pop, glam rock, electro-glam and new rave. The band released their debut album a couple of months ago, although they have been together since 2006 and fairly active on the festival and live gig circuit. Its four members are lead vocalist Ben Duffy, Ross Duffy, Daniel Soler and Andrew Lindsay.

Fenech Soler's sound draws heavily on electro house dance music, and their live performances involve a good deal of sound mixing, usually by multi-tasking front man Ben Duffy. Their basslines are quite heavy rock while the singing is delicate and passionate, touching on themes ranging from the proverbial love and betrayal to self affirmation and psychological insecurities, their forthcoming single 'Demons' an example of the latter. But it is undoubtedly the excellent quality of their music that makes this band stand out from most other newish offerings on the British music scene.

Fenech Soler opened the set with 'Battlefields', the opening track on their album and one of their strongest in my view. This was followed by 'Stop & Stare', a more reflective song, and then crowd pleaser 'Lies' which was released as a single in September. For 'Contender', Duffy sat down and played keyboard, in contrast to 'Demons', when he was up on his feet, singing and drumming, as during some other songs. But to be fair, all the band gave an energetic performance through all the songs on the final night of their first UK tour - easily the best act of the night.

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