Shimmery synths, contemplative pop soundscapes and a plethora of nostalgically intimate lyrics: London four-piece Clock Opera seem to have got it all, as well as a steadily growing and devoted fan base (their latest album Venn was crowd-funded earlier this year). Will it be sweet symphonies for the band as they headline Bristol’s Louisiana? Ellen Kemp went to find out what makes them tick.
Last Thursday Clock Opera returned to the Louisiana for the first time since touring their debut album. Ways to Forget was released back in 2012, an eclectic collection of tracks I remember paying fleeting attention to as a scruffy, cynical teenager. Seeing them billed for tonight, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect: earlier this year they released Venn, which by all accounts is a worthy progression on from their first album. And so with some trepidation, I entered the darkness of the upstairs of the Louis, watched the support bands and waited.
Clock Opera’s long awaited return to Bristol was met with an enthusiastic crowd of devotees, and so the cosy little space was soon occupied by healthy audience shuffling around on the patterned carpet to find a good spot.
They launched into the show sure-footed and energetic, and kept the pace and power through the entire set, which, frontman Guy Connelly explained was the probably one of the longest they had played. Yet the band did not appear to wane at any moment, only pausing to chat to the crowd a bit. Connelly spoke about the last time he had been to the Louisiana, for a show from his old History teacher’s band (sadly said teacher wasn’t in attendance this time round). But on with the show.
Compared to the recordings, their live performance allowed a much stronger emphasis on the bass and percussion, lending the punchy synth lines and cleverly constructed guitar riffs that lock together so well the momentum needed to get the audience dancing. Indeed if there had been a little more breathing space, there would have been every potentiality for people to go a little bit nuts, especially given the suspenseful build-ups and refrains that dominate the band’s songwriting.
I had been apprehensive about the strength of the vocals prior to the gig: again, from the recordings you might assume his voice is perhaps a little too quiet to translate well into live shows. This was far from the case. In fact, Connelly’s soulful falsetto confidently soared over the instrumental lines, with all the markers of vocal mastery that only elevated the band’s stage presence.
Promising that the next album wouldn’t take so long, and wryly commenting on the inevitable encore, Clock Opera’s penultimate song was probably the main stylistic departure, a little bit softer, the charming, glittering chimes of one of their earlier singles, ‘Belongings’. Upbeat and featuring a delicious little piano melody that will get stuck in your head, I defy anyone not to like this song.
Duly departing from the stage (then returning a few minutes later) for the last song they let loose ‘Lesson Number Seven’, a track from their first album with a hyper-active beat that develops into much dirtier, heavier riff than most of the set, leaving the crowd buzzing. Fingers crossed they announce some festival appearances for summer, because Clock Opera are well worth checking out.
Did Clock Opera get you ticking? Let us know in the comments below or via social media.