fabric works brilliantly as a live music venue. That may not be a surprise, but it's something that's easy to miss considering there were only two nights at the club this year that could really be considered gigs as opposed to raves. It's a shame that the venue is not used more in this way as Matthew Dear's recent show at the club proved.
Warming up the evening were The Invisible, a band whose evolved guitar music has won them fans from across the music landscape. Bathed in red lighting, the band worked through a tight set that comfortably brought their heavily produced music to life. Although they relied on a laptop to power certain sections, it seemed anything that could feasibly be played live was done so. The band's front-men, Dave Okumu and Tom Herbert, traded a dizzying array of roles: swapping as they did bass, vocals, guitars and percussion at different parts of the show. However, it was the drumming that really tied the whole thing together. Featuring a steady stream of funk breaks and fizzy hi-hat rides, the drummer's performance gave a punch not present in their albums. This was kind of surprising until you realise Leo Taylor moonlights in punk-funketeers, Zongamin.
After a brief DJ interlude, Matthew Dear followed. Rocking a sharp black suit with serious gusto, Dear and his group resembled a band from a Goth wedding. A stark white backdrop—with touches like white roses surrounding Dear's mic stand—gave off a feeling of the theatrically macabre. Dear entered the stage by looping a series of yelps into a mess of sonic gobbledygook. As a fuzz of noise pinged around the room the band leapt into their first number. There was an urgency and funk at work with the group's performance, and a completely new brass sections on certain songs thanks to the inclusion of some great trumpet playing from No Regular Play's Greg Paulus. Most importantly, though, the frailties of Dear's voice, which can sometimes seem quite stark, seemed to disappear in a live setting, thanks to his charisma as a frontman.
Dear always seemed to keep himself busy while on stage, whether he was fruitily playing the maracas or flailing a tambourine around his head. As he closed the set with "You Put A Smell On Me" he even went as far as pulling a stage light to his face, illuminating his head like someone telling a ghost story around a camp fire. It was typical of a performance filled with total stage control. When Dear released Asa Breed in 2008, many assumed he was a techno guy giving songwriting a try. Watching him at fabric you were left in little doubt he was born to be anything other than the lead singer of a band.