November 6, 2012
On a night when everyone is locked in an US election day trance, American synth-noir act Chromatics were the alternative for those choosing pop over politics. As a band who’ve existed in various forms since 2001, their recent mainstream crossover was aided by the success of the film “Drive” and its accompanying synth-wave soundtrack where their instrumental track “Tick Of The Clock” prominently featured. After releasing their own material and operating under the radar for so long, it was apt that the right vehicle for their spacious cinematic sound would be a soundtrack itself.
Chromatics are still much the unknown live entity over here. Their last London headline show was in front of a couple hundred people in June at Madame Jojos in Soho where they perfectly recreated the sound and displaced emotion of their just-released fourth album, Kill For Love. The intimacy of the room suited the band and the performance eclipsed all expectation. Tonight in the cavernous confines of Heaven, the room filled to near capacity the band take to the stage in shadow and open with the very track that was their ticket out of anonymity, “Tick Of The Clock”.
Surrounded by boys with antique synths with a penchance for Italo disco and new wave, it’s up to Ruth Radelet, Chromatics’ perfectly poised chanteuse to add a human touch to the proceeding, breathing seductive cool into their ever-growing collection of love-titled songs – “Kill For Love”, “I Want Your Love”, and new track, “Looking For Love”, while bandleader and synth-geek Johnny Jewel stands stage right, head bouncing up and down to the metronomic beat of the music.
With the set paced different from earlier in the year, the slower, mood-driven numbers appear to be given a dancefloor facelift and more prominent pulse as if Chromatics had begun to tailor their live sound to suit their growing audience and recent festival circuit appearances. This might detract from what you’ve come to expect from the band on record, but in a live setting it’s all about creating an enjoyable atmosphere and Chromatics have wisely stepped up their game to make their moment last.
Setlist: Tick Of The Clock/Lady/Kill For Love/Night Drive/Hands In The Dark/Back From The Grave/Looking For Love/These Streets Will Never Look The Same/I Want Your Love/Running Up That Hill//Into The Black/The River/In The City