There’s no doubt that the band can charm an audience.
It is perhaps fitting that the Cardiff leg of Clean Bandit’s autumn tour passes by The Great Hall on a Saturday night. Despite the curious mélange of adults on a night-out, and teenage girls who can’t quite manage to get served, the crowd is buzzing with the diluted visions of hedonism that only a weekend can provide.
Years & Years open strongly and are the antidote to the restlessness in the room. Olly Alexander’s vocals cut through the haze of iPad-controlled synths and dance drum beats to give a nod to 90s R&B, with a tone so saccharine even Lauryn Hill would be proud of. It is, ironically, the slowest and most delicate moment that wins Years & Years their new fans; as just Olly and his piano play a trembling verse of ‘Eyes Shut’, the atmosphere settles, with whispers flickering over the audience like a swooning wave.
In opening with ‘A + E’, Clean Bandit put their cards on the table straight away; mellifluous neoclassical strings introduce the set with intricacy and style, but are swiftly met with a punishing bass line and somewhat intrusive vocals. There is no doubt, however, that the band can charm an audience; evidently a festival-pleaser over the summer, the crowd thrive off the big beats and orchestral hooks, with no one in the room standing still.
Clean Bandit reach their musical peak with ‘Dust Clears’ highlighting the eclecticism and extent of their talents. Intelligently constructed and idiosyncratically produced, it symbolises a time when the band made music with perhaps more integrity and less focus on radio playability. Sadly for a lot of the set, the enchanting, classical elements of the maple and spruce seem lost and overwhelmed among the cacophony of beats and bass.
All Clean Bandit need now is a live show with a little more personality; imagine watching Biffy Clyro with a stand-in singer, it just doesn’t work. Get around this issue, and there would be nowhere else I’d rather be.