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DESCENDING the steps of London’s foremost nightclub amid a smoke machine haze would normally proceed an all-nighter listening to drum and bass or techno.
But tonight the main room does not grace us with the presence of an anonymous DJ but the sunny Anna Meredith and her (very) fun band, complete with guitarist, drummer, tuba player and cellist all mic-ed up to the nines.
Meredith, a classically trained composer turned purveyor of catchy experimental electronic pop, stands behind a keyboard in a fetching white with black stripe boiler suit, where she plays polyrhythms and Glassian arpeggios while occasionally whipping out a clarinet.
Performing at the tail end of her UK tour, tonight is actually part of London's first Pitchfork Festival — the annual summer music festival in Chicago already has an offshoot in Paris — held at a dozen venues across the capital.
Billed as a run-down of her Mercury music prize shortlisted album FIBS, the troupe perform most from that with room for a few more fan faves; most notably the crescendoing Nautilus off first album Varmints, a track so brimming with malevolence and foreboding that it was used in the soundtrack to Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade. The debut’s tuneful Taken and Something Helpful also receive welcome airings.
In typically playful spirit, Meredith turns mock passive aggressive in a bid to get people to buy her merchandise during an amusing interlude with some slow drumming courtesy of Sam Wilson.
Playing just one from latest album Bumps Per Minute (18 Studies For Dodgems) — BPM 194: Tom Cruise Runs — Meredith challenges the audience to name the track. Nobody does.
Maybe that’s because tonight is largely all about FIBS, an album full of gems from the melodic Inhale Exhale and immersive electronica of Calion to Tom Kelly’s tuba-led Bump and Maddie Cutter’s haunting cello on the supremely poignant moonmoons.
Keeping in tradition for a Meredith gig, the group dedicate their encore to a cover — an ambitious Nothing Compare’s 2U as guitarist Jack Ross segues nicely into Prince’s Purple Rain. A spectacular way to end the night — while Meredith is at the merchandise stall selling her wares even before the first person has left the building.
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