London Grammar had a good year last year, and their good fortune is only getting better. So good, in fact, that the Nottingham University graduates have recently been nominated for a Brit Award, casually posed in US Vogue and was asked to come on to the Jimmy Fallon Show the same night as Bruce Springsteen. A deeper shade of pop, punctuated with electronic sounds and embellished with soulful vocals forms the unique amalgamation that makes London Grammar so different – and so promising.
The night begins with a singer/songwriter called Kyan who walks modestly, quietly, on to the stage, only to belt out a voice that couldn’t contradict this more. Delving into heavily layered, powerful electro/soul tracks, he sings, ‘My dead ones are living, My selfish are giving, Free men walk my prison, My demons in heaven’ on his incredible track ‘Rosetta’, inviting us to be submerged in between the lines of his beautiful lyrics. He was, quite simply, mesmerising; a voice that entranced the audience effortlessly. The Cambridge singer, who also plays the piano and produces all of his own songs, is sure to make ripples in the music scene very soon.
Next comes Say Lou Lou, a Swedish band who are all about flawless harmonising between two female singers with backing vocals from the rest of the band. Looking like employees of All Saints, they captivated the audience – especially in ‘Better in the Dark’ – though not on Kyan’s scale. They simply did not have the power behind them, revving up their songs (though they do make nice easy listening).
Just past nine, London Grammar discreetly walk onto stage, refusing to lap up a single bit of their crowd’s praise. You wouldn’t quite believe it that London Grammar, only four days before the gig, had to cancel their show in London due to illness. Hannah Reid, the singer of the trio, has a voice with no signs of imperfections, not even a slight imprint of her recent inability to sing. Because, when Hannah sings, without any instruments, she is flawless. Diving into melancholic depths and spiralling up to haunting heights, that is it: the crowd are transfixed in their wraith of intoxicating fumes, bobbing their heads in invisible synchronicity.
Perhaps it was the way Dot (keyboards, percussion) shyly tucked his hair out of his eyes at every given break, the way Dan (guitars) got embarrassed when Hannah asks him to tell a story to the crowd while she went off to change her top, or perhaps the way Hannah wears minimal make up and a jersey top with jeans, but London Grammar are overwhelmingly, well, normal. And it’s great.
Nothing worked the crowd into more of a hypnotised frenzy than ‘Wasting my Young Years’, ‘Nightcall’ and ‘Strong’: songs that absolutely exceeded the sound of their recorded material. Somehow, the trio had performed live music better than any edited, tweaked, or improved song on their album. It was emblazoned with a kind of bittersweet glory, full of indulgent hums with the power to, just for a moment, make you forget everything else.