Athlete entertain tonight at the Union Chapel, Islington, as part of the ‘the hits stripped back’ UK tour. The venue is perfect! Many live bands would struggle with this setting and acoustics, but for Athlete, they look right at home. Front man Joel Pott is on top form and greets us with a ‘Wow’ proceeding to tell us how that word will be used lots tonight. His charisma and banter keep the crowd entertained between hits. There are no surprises, the band lines up as it’s always has since day one which is many years ago now. They have hits in abundance and rattle through them with the confidence and experience you would come to expect from these well rehearsed veterans.
The band start with Half Light putting any fears to bed that the acoustics of this venue may play havoc with the bands sound. Joel deflects friendly crowd heckles well – and a pin drop can be heard in here so standing up there must be a lonely place. After inviting a girl in the crowd to ‘do a duet’ the band launch into Super Human Touch. Old hits that stand out are no surprise, You Got The Style earns a church choir chorus along with Vehicles and Animals which Joel performs acoustically on his own. The band settle into the environment quickly Tourist, Hurricane and Elsavador provide a run of famous singles, with the ever included Omni-chord being introduced on Elsalvador.
The bands most popular hit Wires creates a very special moment. I take a quick panoramic view of the chapel and every one is on their feet, arms aloft and bellowing out the ‘down corridors through, automatic doors…’ . It receives the best applause of the night but again, this is no surprise. Band exit left, only to come back on to and encore which kicks off with the more recent The Getaway. The song’s three different melody’s are genius and again earn the band another crowd sing-along. You can tell this would not be the bands usual Encore and that they may have just tailored it for this stripped back tour, either way, it works! After the Beatles-esque Rubicks Cube which starts with Joel having to tune is guitar, the band finish with Chances. The arm-swaying crowd want more and Joel tells the crowd how they want to play more but the curfew has arrived.