Alpines played their biggest headline show to date last week at a packed Omeara in London. Their hypnotic blend of hip hop, Balearic house, R&B and pop was in evidence throughout, as the duo of Bob Matthews and Catherine Pockson were complemented by a drummer and backing vocalists. Playing the majority of their 2016 album, Another River, and a few older tracks as well, the band grew in confidence as their set progressed, with Pockson’s vocal in particular growing into the performance. By the time they reached ‘Cocoon’, Pockson was having real fun, mixing in En Vogues ‘Don’t Let Go’ and in the process fulfilling both her own and it seemed much of the crowd’s karaoke dreams.
Elsewhere, the hip hop beats of ‘Stay’ and ‘Completely’, the gospel tinged pop ballad ‘Love and Money’ and electronic guitar licks of ‘Motionless’ prove the range and stylistic variety of the band. The opening bars of ‘Chances’, however best showcased their understanding as a duo, stripped back to Pockon’s strong vocal, which has a real mainstream pop quality to it, and the strength of their songwriting.
Alpines were complemented by two supporting acts on the night, Henry Green and Tusks, with both previewing new material from their upcoming albums. Henry Green was full of boyish charm, his music a mix of emotive and lovelorn lyricism, electronic beats and swirling synths that set the tone for the night. ‘Barcelona’ was a particular standout, one of Green’s longstanding singles and the perfect example of the atmospheric electronica in which he excels. Latest single ‘Closer’ follows a similar pattern, with the glitchy drum pattern driving the track forward.
One Little Indian signee, Tusks, meanwhile continued to justify her rising stock in the industry. Emily Underhill performed alongside her band on the night, and she spent much of her performance with her eyes closed, swept up in the emotion and power of her own work. Whilst Underhill is front and centre to the performance, her vocal has a delicate, waspish quality to it and is the perfect foil to the soundscapes she and her band create. The set moved from synths and electronica in the opening track into guitar heavy alt pop by its close as Underhill demonstrated her fantastic mix of urban electronica in the style of James Blake and the ethereal soundscapes of the likes of Sigur Ros. Tusks also performed new single ‘Toronto’ (written in the city of its name) from her upcoming album, which showed her strong vocal range and had a strong ambient sound courtesy of its guitar riff, which drives the track along and brings to mind London Grammar, providing a really exciting insight into what is to come.
In spite of some technical difficulties which effected the transition between sets and an echoy space, which seems the amplify audience conversation more than anything else, the night was a fantastic showcase for some of the leading purveyors of alt-pop in the UK, with these rising talents suggesting there is reason for great optimism going forward.
Words: William Sutton
Photo: Jodie Canwell