Ever since the release of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, both Chromatics & Desire have pushed to the forefront of the synthwave scene, due to their brilliant contributions on the film’s soundtrack with their songs Tick of the Clock and Under Your Spell, both of which went on to become fan favourites. With the newfound levels of fame that the movie brought their way, why did it take so long for both bands to make their way to the UK? Who knows. All that matters is that they are here now.
Up first are French newcomers Double Mixte who debuted back in February with their excellent EP Romance Noir. Despite their inexperience, members Clara Apolit and Thomas Maan remain cool and composed. Their stage set up is simple – a laptop and two microphones. Maan stays behind the screen whilst Apolit takes centre stage, dancing to the beat whilst singing. All the while, a large screen behind them both plays a series of intriguing, neon soaked images. The set up is repetitive but Maan and Apolit switch roles enough to keep it interesting. Their music is of high quality but the PA system lets them down. Apolit’s vocals are almost completely unintelligible. However, the crowd thank them with roaring applause after every song. A successful set, all things considered.
Next up are Desire, Chromatics main support for the night. The band members come on one at a time with Johnny Jewel (the founder and owner of Italians Do It Better, the record label that all three bands on the tour are signed to) getting the largest reaction. One member of the audience screams, ‘Johnny Jewel you’re a f***ing genius.’ Clearly, the crowd are passionate. They bring a whole new energy to the room that perhaps the young Double Mixte could not provide, with lead singer Megan Louise declaring, ‘We’re gonna party tonight.’ Surprisingly, they stick completely to their 2009 album II, bar one cover of New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle, skipping out on their latest single (also their first single in nine years) Tears From Heaven. An odd choice, but Desire still amaze the crowd and put on a show that the headliners will find hard to beat.
After a brief intermission, the lights go down. Adam Miller and Johnny Jewel walk on stage and immediately have the audience in the palm of their hands by opening with Tick of the Clock. After the end of the track the rest of the band join the two on stage and they break in to Lady, from 2012’s Kill For Love. The room goes crazy for it. There’s not much movement within the crowd, but the enjoyment and enthusiasm from each fan can be felt. Crashing a wave of neon over the audience, the band rip through their set and by the time they are done it feels as though they have just started. The audience clap, scream, and beg the band to come back on stage, having their wish granted before too long. Lead Singer Ruth Radelet performs a solo cover of Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire before the band are back on stage together ending the show with a terrific cover of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill. If there was any doubt as to who would own the night Chromatics snatched the title by the end of the show, solidifying themselves as the top of the synthwave world.