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TEN FÉ / JW RIDLEY / SHOP GIRLS | LIVE REVIEW

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Ten-Fé-Press-ShotTEN FÉ / JW RIDLEY / SHOP GIRLS | LIVE REVIEW

4stars

 

Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, Sat 11 Mar

Ten Fé’s brand of polished MOR fare may be considered an acquired taste, with the glut of Elbow-esque bluster and faux emotive gravitas that has recently been on-trend. However, this was more than compensated for through the London duo’s chemistry and knack for melodic songcraft, which was in abundance on Saturday night.

Support came in the form of Cardiff’s Shop Girls, vocalist and guitarist JP Davies appearing, minus drummer and bassist. With witty humour and a swagger akin to Elvis Costello, Davies rolled through a series of upbeat jangle-pop ditties, coupling cheery melodies with droll lyrical tales, a quirky crossover between The Kinks and Bella and Sebastian. In The Bathroom and Pretty Song proved particularly effective in provoking much-needed toe-tapping interest.

Up-and-coming talent JW Ridley quietly summoned himself to the stage, instantly delving into a series of unreleased tracks. The artist placidly introduced himself before the penultimate track of the set Everything (Deathless), a mistily meditative standout that recalls the whimsical dreampop of Wild Nothing and other Captured Tracks labelmates. Coupling chugging electropop style with shard-like guitar lilts, the songwriter managed to conjure a dazed tonality steeped in dark wave despondency, with Ridley’s yearning voice lulling and stirring in equal measure.

Headliners Ten Fé swiftly dived into Overflow, a slow-moving ballad bookended with an eruptive solo, which deftly invigorated the swaying ranks. And in inviting the crowd to move closer to the stage, there was an eagerness to prevent any hint of lethargy. With influences fixed midway between Aztec Camera and Springsteen, the two-piece occupy a frayed radio-friendly hinterland, not easily bracketed as full blown power balladry. Distinct from other contemporaries trading in this, Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan collectively brought a soulful dynamic to their performance, notable with Turn and the smooth yacht rock of Another Way, reminiscent of early 80s Hall & Oates.

Within a live setting, the outfit revealed a degree of latent eclecticism, with Hawkwind-esque synth segues between tracks and an unexpected Hacienda-like hedonism. As a result, revellers were rewarded with a set that surprised in its scope of influence and vivacity.

words CHRIS HAMILTON-PEACH

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