With a dash of Mod style, a spoonful of 60s-inspired Rhythm ‘n’ Blues, and a barrel load of melodic hooks, London quartet Hidden Charms, have been creating quite a stir over the past few years.
In their wake they have left a trail of ecstatic live shows and an impressive collection of releases, picking up press plaudits galore and an ever-growing fan base. They even enticed legendary producer Shel Talmy (The Who, The Kinks) out of semi-retirement to lay down some tracks at his Los Angeles studio.
And this is a band who look as good as they sound, achieving sartorial success by becoming poster boys for Burberry and Pretty Green.
With all this, it is no surprise that the band sold out Sneaky Pete’s ON Friday night for a keenly-anticipated return to Edinburgh on their latest UK tour.
The first warm-up band of the evening, Attic Choir, stepped up to the stage to play a short but sweet set. Formed late 2016, the Scottish three-piece are grungy and raw with the songs drifting between pumped-up riffs and stripped-back baselines.
The highlight was Lesson Everything To Nothing – a great tune with the vocals hinting at Frightened Rabbit, and an easy rhythm that had the crowd swaying.
The Bay Rays, a lively trio from Tunbridge Wells, who play a cranked up punchy brand of garage rock, followed. Their blitzkrieg bop went down well with an enthusiastic crowd. With howling guitar chords from the outset and some encouragement from the lead singer, Harry Nicoll, the crowd were drawn towards to the front of the stage.
Let Me Know and the guitar siren of Weekend Warrior kept the tempo and the audience fired up – this is band who know how to give a live performance. Integration was the perfect finale, its strong chorus carrying the crowd along as they jumped to its infectious riffs.
Take a listen to their latest EP, Satisfaction, and keep an eye out for the return of this band in a headline slot.
The warmed up crowd were now restless for the headliners and a huge cheer greeted Hidden Charms when they took to the stage.
They opened with the dynamic Left Hand Man, and the packed audience were jumping from the very first chord. The band hit their stride with the bluesy groove of Long Way Down and, when they launched into Love You Cause You’re There, it was a dancefloor frenzy with the crowd ecstatic and bouncing.
The thumping baseline and guitar growl of Cannonball set the audience off once more – and it was as if the band had electrificed the air, with each song a power surge pulsating through the venue.
The riff ridden I Just Wanna Be Alone closed a rousing performance with the band hauling delighted audience members on stage to join in the chorus – it’s a rock ‘n’ roll free for all.
Sneaky Pete’s is the kind of venue this gutsy music thrives in, and on Friday, Hidden Charms delivered some serious blood, sweat and tears.
It was an exhausted, satisfied crowd that made its way home.
Words: Alan Hotchkiss