REVIEW gig Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha
RARE, BUT WELL DONE. THE CHAP RETURN TO THE LEXINGTON
An all-too-rare delight comes in the form of a UK live set from The Chap; Dream Themes almost upstage them.
It has become less and less likely for this reviewer to make the effort to travel to London from the sleepy hamlet of Llanbradach, but for some bands that effort truly has to be made. I’m not even talking about the main focus for this evening’s festivities; The Chap – who are now split between London and Berlin thereby making tickets for UK shows as valuable as the proverbial gold dust. The band in question here are Dream Themes, a band that has only come into my purview in the last couple of weeks after seeing they were announced as main support. The premise is stunningly simple; live band plays TV theme tunes. It all ends up feeling like some kind of school disco for grown-ups (the theme tune from ‘Grange Hill’ gets an outing, which helped) and there are plenty of opportunities for dancing and air-guitaring along because despite many of the crowd being new to the band, everyone knows all of the songs. A genius idea all told, and one that the 200-strong sold out crowd gave a mighty welcome too. Some would find it hard to get excited at the thought of a very accomplished group of men (once Frank Sidebottom’s backing band, no less) playing a note-perfect version of the ‘Bergerac’ theme tune but believe me it works. It may work as a novelty in record form, but it has to be seen live to make any real sense. Now, The Chap I could harp on about for hours whether you like it or not, but I’ll rein it in as barely anyone actually scrolls down the screen to read a whole article. True story. The number of times I have seen The Chap since being introduced to their music a little under ten years ago may still be able to be counted on two hands but each gig has been nothing other than a triumph and I’m happy to report this one did not disappoint. The first thing to note was that they were on-stage as a five-piece. This is all very new and exciting (or fun and interesting) as I’ve only ever seen them as a four-piece at best (mostly a three-piece due thanks to babies). The second thing to note is that despite their bored expressions for a great deal of the set (Keith on drums a worthy exception), they actually put on a great visual show – complete with little dance routines, audience interaction and of course, Panos Ghikas’ trademark shorts. What has been seen, cannot be unseen. The great thing about The Chap’s set was the variation on show. No stone, or album was left unturned with a few songs even being unearthed from 2003’s ‘The Horse’. There wasn’t a huge amount of new tuneage here however. Nothing has been forthcoming since 2012’s amazing (albeit relatively downbeat) ‘We Are Nobody’ and despite the odd update on their site informing us of more to come, perhaps the strain of living in various parts of Europe and the introduction of the pitter-patter of tiny Chaps might be taking its toll creativity-wise. I hope, of course, that I’m wrong. There were several predictable highlights with the crowd-favourite certainly being the rousing ‘Fun And Interesting’ – probably their most accessible and poppy single to date (despite now being a scary 6 years old). There were some more off-kilter moments; ‘Remember Elvis Rex’ was warmly welcomed by a particular section of the hard-core fans and a mess of noise which I can only assume was ‘BITSS!’ gave many of the crowd ample time to go and re-visit the bar. Confusing, brittle but somehow ridiculously entertaining, The Chap need to come back soon.