Electronic pop group Clean Bandit has made waves over the past few summers; their engaging up-tempo party songs have filled radio stations and playlists, allowing the dance tunes to become household favourites. Their presence on the festival circuit was well noted, appearing at festivals all over the UK. The question heading in to their Academy show was how they would transition from these massive stages and crowds to a smaller more docile venue; well fear not because Clean Bandit radiated energy and enthusiasm, rivaling their main stage festival performances.
In an explosion of light and glitter Clean Bandit opened with reverberating “Stronger” and island vibe “Cologne.” The pulsating lights and extensive use of pyrotechnics wowed fans, truly like a festival experience packed into the tiny Academy room. Mega hit “Symphony” was an obvious crowd favourite, with everyone singing along. The tune has this staccato start and a slow ramp that really brings an emotional tinge to the song; you can’t help but be moved by the myriad of voices and beats. “Extraordinary” and “Disconnect” highlighted the impressive use of strings that permeates a Clean Bandit show. Unlike other electronic groups, Clean Bandit melts together classical instruments with drum machines and synths, producing this distinctive soothing sound that flows like waves over the audience. It is not just pop, but beautifully orchestrated pop.
“A+E,” “Birch,” and “Come Over” pack moody R+B vibes with some slower tempos. On queue fans bring up their hands, waving in syncopated movements along with the songs beats. “Rockabye,” another smash single brings the tempo back to its electronic dance rhythm and fans respond with erratic dancing and excitement. It is difficult to sustain such an energy during a pop tinged set, but Clean Bandit seems to have found the perfect balance controlling the emotions and movement of those present. “Telephone” and “Pieces of You,” bathed in a rainbow of lights, continue the dance euphoria. “Should’ve Known Better” and “Real Love” round out the set, with an encore finding the triad of “I Miss You,” “Tears,” and “Rather Be.”
Clean Bandit is not your typical contrived electronic pop group; the genuinely talented musicians combine intricate structures with understandable lyrics to create songs that have purpose and meaning, while being excitable and fun. It is a coordination that many fail to reach, and yet Clean Bandit have found it and made it their sweet spot.
At their O2 Academy show Clean Bandit not only entertained fans but created an atmosphere that was electric, a pure display of the bands successful dominance in the electronic pop scene.
Reviewer: Kylie McCormick
Photographer: Ian Dunn