Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Elizabeth Rose. Photo by Rochelle Flack
Northcote Social Club, March 15 2014

The sold out sign is up long before the rainstorm outside eases and the tropicalia rhythms of Fishing's set begin. Their inventive Clams Casino-style sampledelica and cartoonish approach to electro hip-hop is instantly appealing. That the duo's clumsy approach to triggering and cutting - rather than sequencing their slippery beats, squelchy synths and airy chords - only adds to the party vibe.

Safia, a tighter and less charismatic act, have Muse-size ambition and get a passionate response from a near-capacity room. Initially, their sparkling and banging production doesn’t seem worthy of the often-formulaic songs it inhabits, but as the set progresses and singer Ben Woolner’s neo-soul voice limbers up, the gig takes off. The punchy swagger and mammoth beats of early track Stretched and Faded, Listen to Soul, Listen to Blues and their remix of the Aston Shuffle’s Tear it Down best showcase this production/voice combination. Safia are bound to be killing it at a festival before the year is out.  

The curtain parts, symphonic synth chords boom, clouds of purple dry ice billow and tonight’s star Elizabeth Rose arrives wearing a gold Lame top with an open blue eye. Blasting us skyward with her instantly addictive intelligent electro pop, opening track Is it Love? buzzes like a head full of nitrous oxide. Breezing through technical glitches like a seasoned pro, Rose works her way through a set heavy on R&B rhythms and spiralling melodies. Rose's songs Ready and Out of Step  showcase her fresh approach to sampling and her deft way with a chorus. In a genre that often feels limp and exhausted, to see so much energy and a complete lack of cynicism fills the heart with joy. Again (Rose's 2012 single produced by UK star Sinden) still sounds futuristic, which is amazing in such a fast-moving field. Songs such as Sensibility strike that rare balance of a 9.1 from Pitchfork and MMM high rotation, the sort of quality that makes her cover of Corona's Rhythm of the Night feel infantile and silly, even while it sends hands in the air and gets the room jumping. The Good Life - her closing anthem of defiance and the opening track of tonight's launched EP is final proof that we've all witnessed a monumental talent on the way up.

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