The Correspondents at Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth (01/03/13)

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Arriving at 8.30 for Beats and Swing night, so as not to miss any support acts, we inevitably entered a pretty deserted Wedgewood Rooms. After a brief confusion over the name of the magazine and next door’s ‘The Edge of the Wedge’ – leading the doorman to believe we were trying to review a private wake – we stepped in from the cold. Propped up at the bar it suddenly occurred to us that the support act was already playing in the form of PANEQ, a DJ set in the main room, which proved to be somewhat awkward as everyone was crammed into the smallish bar area. To be honest, many punters seemed to be relatively oblivious – PANEQ provided inoffensive background dance-noise to those waiting patiently for electro-swingers The Correspondents.

They took to the stage at just past 10. Consisting of vocalist Mr Bruce and DJ Chucks, they were met with enthusiastic applause. The atmosphere was that of a diverse crowd, that, almost smugly, knew they were ‘onto’ an act undiscovered by many – a phenomenon limited to the under £15 gig. For some, Mr. Bruce’s 1920’s hairstyle and penchant for colourful one-pieces may seem a clash, and certainly the show is meant to be somewhat surreal, but this clash is integral to the very fibre of The Correspondents. Blending jazz and swing (often in the form of samples) with a energetic mix of loops and ‘modern’, digital sounds – as the genre name ‘electro-swing’ indicates, they are truly an act for any electro, dance or even just music fan. Still relatively unknown, although having played for several years at smaller stages at Glastonbury festival, it was a privilege to see them in an intimate space.

Bigger tracks were played early, namely ‘Washington Square’ and ‘What’s Happened to Soho?’; this was an act we could dance to and the crowd knew it. Mr Bruce maintained the energy during the 45 minute or so set, his trademark frantic dancing and one-liners – “not bad for a Thursday night!” –  making him the ideal showman. The show descended into a looser set, with sporadic vocals (including some scatting) and obvious dubstep influences, but the crowd was with Mr. Bruce all the way, and dubstep snobs silenced by such a fresh take on the tired electro-dance genre. Electro-swing may not be brand new, but it’s certainly a genre going places. If you’re interested, check out The Correspondents, for one of the best live bands you’ve seen for a while.

 

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