As the opening fuzzed chords of ‘Blue Velvet’ emerge from behind the incense cloud billowing around the stage, the audience found themselves taken far away from the cold, May evening and off into the beach-side retreat where Childhood’s musical influences reside. Throughout their 50 minute set, it feels like we’re already enjoying the summer break and it’s only as the aptly named ‘Solemn Skies’ rolls in, do we find ourselves mournfully coming back to the Southampton reality that awaits us.
But during those 50 minutes we’re treated to a delightfully lo-fi, kaledascopic romp through Childhood’s catalogue thus far. And it’s when listening to it all in quick succession live, can you tell that their album is going to be the Summer 2014 soundtrack. ‘You Could Be Different’ seems to have all the elements of a crowd-pleaser: a catchy hook that drags you in, sing-along-able vocals and the momentum to make people want to move. ‘Mount Chiliad’ is about as sunkissed as it is relaxing – a reoccurring theme in Childhood’s feelgood sound.
Though there’s no doubt that the ‘Pinballs’ is a song of multiple faces; it doesn’t yet seem familiar enough for the crowd to really get it yet. Whilst the psychedelic jam unfolds to allow some of Childhood’s more interesting concepts come to light, the crowd’s attention wavers. And as it slows into the third softer section, where Ben Romans-Hopcrafts’ vocals waver between smooth and smokey to a little strained (likely a consequence of it being the final tour date), the audience don’t seem to know whether it is another track of not, torn between being static and wanting to clap.
‘Bond Girls’ has more of a frantic indie-pop pace around it; built with the need for pogoing at festivals in mind, as that’s exactly what it achieves tonight. The crowd start dancing around with a little more fire under their feet, as the distortion heavy riffs swirl like a maelstrom in which the vocals are the anchor point. It does become glaringly obvious in amongst the other tracks that this is some of the earlier material; it is simplistic in nature and far more formulaic when compared to the likes of ‘Sweet Preacher’ and latest single ‘Falls Away’.
Speaking of ‘Falls Away’, there is little doubt that it is the standout track of the evening. The lo-fi tinged surf guitars flow melodically around one another– spiraling out from the audience’s grasp. Romans-Hopcraft’s vocals aren’t quite as prominent as perhaps you’d like, sometimes completely washed away by the rest of the music, but his rich, whispered falsetto is something of a wonder when it does have its time to shine.
It is most certainly a solemn moment when we hit the crescendo of the shoegazing ‘Solemn Skies’ knowing that this is coming to an end. But despite knowing that this particular Southampton show is over, with the performance here tonight, there’s no chance that they won’t be bringing summer back here again in the near future.