Alex Clare at Somerset House Summer Series
Tonight sees the launch of London’s Somerset House Summer Series, a string of ten nightly open-air shows that features the likes of Richard Hawley and Goldfrapp before culminating with Basement Jaxx. So it’s of little wonder that the entire run of performances is currently sold out.
The pixie-ish Chloe Howl is on support duty this evening and her lite brand of synth pop would probably be a tad underwhelming on its own, but as a precursor to Clare, it’s passable.
It’s probably unfair to blame the warm up act for the muted atmosphere, because the mercury takes an almighty plunge just before Clare takes to the stage. But when he does so, large pockets of the zombie like crowd barely seem to notice, content to chat through the first 30 odd minutes and even an obligatory big clap-a-long doesn’t even come close to taking off.
Which is unfortunate because the initial stages of Clare’s set include his more enjoyably mellow tracks such as Relaxed My Beloved and Tight Rope, which feature some of the singer’s more delicate arrangements including a mini choir, and some classy brass work.
Clare’s eclectic palette is what sets him apart from other singer-songwriters out there. In fact such is Clare’s desire and ability to incorporate an array of musical styles into the mix, it’s probably easier to name the genres that don’t feature. Yet for all his soul, dance, and jazz concoctions, Clare’s a bit of a softie at heart, and this earnest side of him is never more exemplified than in I Love You, and then later on in the set closer I Won’t Let You Down.
One problem of performing live when you’ve only got the one album (The Lateness of the Hour) under your belt is the lack of surprises you can include into your set list. You’re naturally obliged to simply work your way through every track on it and save the hits for the end. But they don’t come much bigger than Too Close, with a distinctive sine wave and bass-heavy lines underpinning its massive chorus. Along with Treading Water and Up All Night, it contributes towards a lively final performance that suddenly, and not before time, spurs the crowd to life.
Photos: Thomas Hawk
For further information and future shows visit Alex Clare’s website here.
Watch the video for Up All Night here: