Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms drew a decidedly eclectic mix of punters as they played host to the Emerge NME Radar Tour, which has seen up-and-coming bands Chapel Club, The Joy Formidable, Wilder and Flats performing around the UK.
London based five piece Chapel Club took the middle slot of the night and played a short but enigmatic half hour set, packed with rippling guitar riffs and lingering vocals. Debut single ‘Surfacing’ – the chorus of which borrows from 1930s classic ‘Dream a Little Dream of Me’ – ensured a slow-paced but atmospheric opening.
Front man Lewis Bowman leaned on his mike and gazed solemnly into the crowd as he delivered an impressive vocal performance which was both effortlessly controlled and beautifully expressive. He could perhaps have relaxed just a little to some of the more upbeat tracks, his stiff posture seeming to jar with the tempo of faster efforts such as ‘Five Trees’. The band as a whole were not inclined to much movement around the stage, but this created an impression of assured confidence rather than of a lack of effort or excitement. For their part the crowd were gradually moved, if not to the point of jumping around then certainly to some enthusiastic swaying and nodding of heads.
The band’s mellow style means that the majority of their tracks do not lend themselves to being instant crowd-pleasers, and their material is undeniably lacking in catchy choruses. However, this deficit was largely made up for by the smoothness and intensity of the performance, and singles ‘O Maybe I’ and ‘All the Eastern Girls’ proved hard to forget.
The latter provided a rousing end to a convincingly polished set from a band who are relatively new on the scene, and if the scattered shouts of ‘Encore!’ were anything to go by, they left the crowd wanting more.