Alastair Thompson

14:58 16th October 2009

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Groove Armada made their long-awaited return to the London live scene last night, in the grimy Elephant & Castle venue, The Coronet. Having long been a venue for both bands and clubbers alike, the setting suited the duo’s new direction – somewhere in between. Taking to the stage a little after 10.15pm, they set up guitar, bass, drums and keyboards though a Monty Python change places sketch was the order of the night.

SaintSaviour is the latest addition to the Team Armada, dressed in a multi-coloured catsuit she mirrored Karen O with every movement, even down to her face paint. Her voice, however, was electric throughout both on the many new tracks on offer and the classics.

“We’re back on home turf, it’s been too long,” mused Andy Cato, before announcing many of GA’s new tracks would be aired for the first time. ‘I Won’t Kneel’ is comparable to ‘Song 4 Mutya’ (sung by SS earlier in the night to a huge ovation), smart and elegant the affect is a big vocal over a wonderfully layered melody. The crescendo at the chorus is pure 80’s mullet. ‘Warsaw’ sees dual vocals juxtapose over a dirty bassline that swaggers like Mr. T eating a Snickers.

Falling last in the set before the encore, ‘Superstylin’ is still GA’s biggest song. After an unnecessary Kraftwerk-esque intro, Cato takes to the trombone for what is now an iconic sound. The crowd went wild as they wound the track down to silence and back up again. Whereas other classics such ‘Easy’ and ‘My Friend’ had been given a 2009 polish of thrashing guitars, ‘Superstylin’ was played as originally written. The new versions coupled with the new material removed some of the variety of old shows, but having ‘At The River’ and ‘Chicago’ at your disposal allows for a bit of tweaking here and there.

Support came from Fenec-Soler who endured from the Coronet’s soundsystem not being able to handle their basslines and Joe+Will Ask? who suffered the derision of having Groove Armada’s roadies sound check over there set, both will see better nights. Under jaw-dropping green lasers, Groove Armada glistened but in a better venue they will undoubtedly shine. 13 years on, the Armada is still sitting strong.

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