We’ve been to a lot of gigs in our time, and very few based on the strength of two songs alone. But it’s no hyperbole to say that mysterious trio London Grammar have just floored us with one of the best live music experiences we’ve ever had.
Hannah Reid, Dan Rothman, and Dot Major – with the glorious hybrid barnet of Faris Badwan and Harry Styles – approach the stage solemnly, but any attempt at maintaining mystique is soon broken by the smiles they raise at the sight of their friends at their first headline gig. (Of course, given the fact that said friends seem to mainly be a coalition of hooting Made in Chelsea extras, there’s probably a very good reason why their PR has shrouded their background.)
But the crowd could have been full of neo-Nazi louts and it wouldn’t have mattered a jot. The moment Reid opens her mouth for the prelude to opener Hey Now, it’s hard not to have a lump in your throat. That voice delivers notes in the most astonishing way, reaching in and decimating any sort of composure you might have. Think Eva Cassidy meeting the xx and you’re about halfway there.
The band go through tracks with equal amount of care and precision, with multi-instrumentalist Major throwing in a machine-gun African drumbeat for certain songs. These Massive Attack moments aside, it’s clear that the debut album will be full of more moving, sombre numbers, making full use of that unique vocal over sparse arrangements.
While Reid apologises for the name of the song Strong, it does turn out to be one of the most chart-friendly, and perhaps the next single. London Grammar close with the Radio1 playlisted (don’t let that put you off) Metal & Dust, but by now this much is clear – inventive, intelligent, lyrical, and affecting, this is everything music should be. Your new favourite band are on the verge of a gigantic breakthrough.