Review: Hot Chip at The Barrowland Ballroom

By Ryan Harley

Fresh off the back of the success of their critically acclaimed seventh album, A Bath Full of Ecstasy, Hot Chip returned to Glasgow for the third time in just over six months in triumphant style. Every time the London based band come to Glasgow they are full of praise for the city and the music lovers that populate it – and Saturday was no different.

Perhaps it was fate that brought Hot Chip to Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom on a Saturday night – or just happenstance. A lucky quirk of scheduling, maybe. However, whether luck, fate, or a well-engineered plan to hit one of the best venues in the world at the height of the weekend – the Glasgow crowd could not have been more ready for the band to take the stage, come nine o’clock.

The pace was set by the band’s 2015 single ‘Huarache Lights’ – the thumping bassline of which set the tone for what was to come. From that moment on, the band attacked the setlist with unrelenting and resolute energy.

At times songs melded into one, slipping from song to song seamlessly, tied together by the same pulsating energy that was present in every single song they played.

As is tradition at this point, Hot Chip’s covers played a key role in the whole experience of the night. It’s always the luck of the draw for audiences as to which they will get. In the past crowds have been treated to Hot Chip’s version of Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’, or Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Everywhere’.

Saturday night’s roll of the dice brought a cover of ‘Sabotage’ by the Beastie Boys – a song that Hot Chip have made all but their own at this point. Although slightly out of step with the rest of their songs, ‘Sabotage’ set the Barrowlands into an absolute frenzy.

Gig-goers may have picked up on a couple of additional covers thrown in for good measure. Tucked neatly into a chorus of ‘Night and Day’ – almost entirely unnoticeable amongst the frantic pace of the song – was a brief but particularly well received rendition of the proto-punk classic, ‘I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar’ by Jonathan Richman.

For a band that have been on the road for as long as Hot Chip have, it would perhaps make sense that performances such as this could become run of the mill. An exercise in going through the motions, playing a set they play every night – however this was not the case for Hot Chip. Every track was performed with even more driving energy than the last – and the band didn’t stop for breath until the closing track was over.

The energy of the whole performance was carried by the energy of the visual experience of the night. In keeping with the design of their latest album, Hot Chip’s vibrant and colourful light show and stage design was a sight to be seen. The whole stage; staging, keyboard and (most importantly) the bands’ uniforms were bathed top to bottom in colour – all complemented by frontman Alexis Taylor’s enormous 3/4 length silver shorts.

As if that wasn’t enough, the band followed up their storming Barras set with a terrific DJ set at the city’s most revered nightclub, the infamous Sub Club, which Hot Chip seem magnetically drawn to nowadays. Sets in the Jamaica Street venue are becoming a common occurrence for the band – who seemingly find it impossible to play a gig in the city without making a stop there afterwards.

Eclectic and energetic until the very end, Hot Chip upheld their reputation as one of the greatest live bands to come out of the UK in some time. Still at the very top of their game after almost twenty years – Hot Chip are a must see any time they come to town.