Songwriting checks out a live show in Bristol by the Matthew Herbert-tipped experimental pop trio, and comes away suitably impressed
What were you doing last Friday? Having a quiet night in? Having a flutter at the dogs? Picking yourself up off a floor speckled with vomit? Or perhaps, like me, you found yourself deep within the recesses of Bristol’s Colston Hall, witnessing something truly special: a performance by Micachu And The Shapes.
It’s been three short years since they released their debut album Jewellery. An album of playful, and bravely experimental anti-pop. An album produced by the celebrated electronic artist Matthew Herbert, who was so impressed that he labelled the band’s guitarist Mica “the next in a line of great female songwriters”. An album so good that its absence from the following Mercury shortlist felt not like an oversight but a kick in the soul of musical taste. Three short years it may have been, but that’s 36 long months I’ve been waiting to see them and they didn’t disappoint.
The trio took to the stage, stoic in the face of the pressure that seeped from the crowd’s eager expectation, and so ensued an hour of excellence. Playing songs from the aforementioned Jewellery and its brilliant successor Never, the band were the perfect distillation of Sonic Youth’s arty chic and the lo-fi pop songwriting of Beat Happening. They were exciting, enthralling and achingly cool.
With songs as good as Never, OK and Holiday it was impossible to disagree with Herbert’s assertion of the band’s potential for greatness. What also shone through was the band’s musicianship. It might be expected that three students of the noted Guildhall would be able to hit the right notes, but they showed the signs of a truly great band, by making their songs sound even better live than they did on record.
As the band exited stage right, it was not the perspiration of their energetic performance that hung in the air, but rather the looks exchanged between an audience whose members were aware that they had just witnessed something truly special.