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Snowmen - Electric Ballroom, London, 11/5/2004

  by Anthony Dhanendran

published: 17 / 5 / 2004

Snowmen - Electric Ballroom, London, 11/5/2004


Former Fridge bassist Adem now has a new guise as folk troubador for the 21st century. At one of his first solo live shows, Anthony Dhanendran watches him come of age

Sporting a rather neat bloodstain-patterned t-shirt, Adem sidles on to the stage of London’s Electric Ballroom like he’s got something to hide. His three-man band, which look like, and play like, folk wizards, follow him on. What follows is an hour or so of quite remarkable musicianship and lyricism from the former Fridge bassist, in his new guise as folk troubador for the 21st century. In the seven song set he does plenty to support the image. The first three songs of the set, 'Statued', 'Cut' and 'Everything You Need', are all utterly faithful to the versions on Adem’s recent album 'Homesongs'. This is probably more of a testament to his and his band’s musicianship than to the ease of playing the music. The mixed crowd – part friends of the bands, part folkie, part Fridge/Four Tet electronica fans – are enjoying themselves nodding along to the pleasant blend of old-school folk and studied harmonic precision. With the exception of Adem himself the band all look the part of old-school folkies – they later turn out to be members of the avant-rock band Hot Chip, and old friends of Adem and Fridge mainman Kieran Hebden. Adem seems much less to be much less confident with the notion of stage presence than his band, although that’s not reflected in his masterful singing and beautiful playing. The band as a four-piece are fresh from supporting Fairport Convention at Scotland’s Triptych Festival, and with a number of other high-profile support slots and solo shows lined up, it won’t be long before he’s an old hand. For the fourth song, 'Long Drive Home', Adem moves to the keyboard and strikes up the song as though he’s been playing the thing for the whole set. It’s oddly reminiscent of Radiohead at times, with the stylised vocals and the 'No Surprises'-style glockenspiel. Like the ones before it, this song almost trails off at the end, leaving the audience somewhat unsure as to when exactly they should be clapping. There are more musical chairs after that, with the band swapping around again to play 'Ringing In My Ear', one of the many high points of the debut album. The percussionist manages to extract a unique sound from a simple tambourine by playing it sat on top of a towel above the drum. It’s at this point that you notice that rather than sporting the average session musician’s standard glassy-eyed stare, the band are really enjoying the music, with the guitarist in particular stamping his feet and grinning like a lunatic. The real passion and enjoyment that the band get out of playing the songs comes across clearly and envelopes the audience like a cloud. One song later, and things are drawing to an abrupt conclusion. The rousing single, 'These Are Your Friends', turns out to be the finale, and .while still keeping the mellow vibe of the evening, it manages to provoke a stirring response. The crescendoing chorus, “Everybody needs some help some time”, manages to bring the place, metaphorically, to its feet. And then, in a trice, it’s over. “We’re going to be playing at the ICA on June 14, and we’ll be playing our own guitars,” Adem says with a grin. That’s followed by a jaunty wave, and that’s all, folks.

Picture Gallery:-
Snowmen - Electric Ballroom, London, 11/5/2004

Snowmen - Electric Ballroom, London, 11/5/2004

Snowmen - Electric Ballroom, London, 11/5/2004

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