March 24, 2011
7th Street Entry, Minneapolis
There is something exhilarating about seeing a young English band on their first proper tour of the U.S. They are playing small rooms again, which must remind them of the intimate UK clubs where they first garnered their initial acclaim, often before returning home to perform in much larger venues that are far more suitable to their growing popularity. Seeing the youthful London quintet Chapel Club at the Entry on Thursday night was clearly one of these type of stirring, special shows, leaving the crowd both utterly transfixed but also clearly wanting more. And hopefully, in their future U.S. tours, the band will deliver on the promise suggested by this show, adding many more equally enthralling Twin Cities performances in front of audiences that surely will only grow larger with time.
This Minneapolis date at the Entry was the final show on Chapel Club's brief American tour, and the band seemed loose and, as far as frontman Lewis Bowman was concerned, admittedly quite drunk. But other than some nagging sound issues that plagued the beginning of the show, the well-paced, 40-minute set went off smoothly, with the band clearly connecting with the adoring audience as they delivered a soaring, confident performance. The nine-song set drew mainly from the band's stirring debut, Palace, as well as two newer songs from the limited-edition Wintering EP. It was a rousing, impassioned show that clearly bodes well for the future of this burgeoning British band.
The set started strongly, with the swelling guitars of "Surfacing" gradually enveloping the small club with its massive, guitar-driven sound. After the next few songs found the band struggling just a bit to perfect their sound and find their footing, especially on the delicately textured beginning to "Fine Light," the band soldiered on admirably, bringing that track to a dynamic, glorious conclusion. And from that moment on, the set truly took flight, with the brash conviction of "O Maybe I" and the smoldering elegance of "Paper Thin" ascending effortlessly within the small room.
"All The Eastern Girls" has become quite a massive single around these parts, and for good reason, since the song is an absolute corker. And in a live setting it took on an added intensity and emotion that only augmented its awesomeness. It was truly a stellar rendition, and solidified the show as an absolute knockout. The band seemed genuinely taken aback by not only the large turnout, but also the boisterous approval the crowd showed towards their songs, which went a long way towards settling the band's nerves and making the performance a special one. Bowman charmingly apologized repeatedly for his (supposedly) rare on-stage drunkeness, but also went on to give props to Minneapolis for both its intricate and fascinating skyway systems (which he explored prior to the show), as well as making the first truly great French Martini that he's had on tour.
Rather than have an understandable drop in potency and passion after such a rousing version of "Eastern Girls," the band only built on that momentum. They tore through a truly enchanting version of the simmering set-closer "The Shore," that gradually swelled to an absolute roar of crushing guitars that so brazenly defined the shoegaze era. It was a phenomenal moment, and proved to be one that the band didn't even attempt to duplicate or better, as they walked off the stage to a roar of applause, and the set fittingly went encoreless (as it really should have). It was a tremendous local debut for Chapel Club, and hopefully will be the type of spirited performance that the band only builds on in future visits to the Twin Cities that will surely only add to their natural allure and expanding appeal.
Critic's Bias: I had this show cirled on my concert calendar months ago, and Palace has been on steady repeat on my stereo since the day I got it.
The Crowd: The show surprisingly didn't sell out (especially considering the $2 ticket price), but the Entry was full of passionate fans looking to get their first live glimpse of Chapel Club.
Overheard In The Crowd: "British bands always have the best haircuts."
Random Notebook Dump: I must mention the ardent opening set put on by local quintet Hunting Club, who proved that they weren't chosen as openers simply based on having a similar band name as the headliners. They delivered a slow-burning, enthusiastic performance that set the stage well for Chapel Club, as well as surely gained them some new fans in the process.
O Maybe I
All The Eastern Girls