London Grammar | photo by Matt Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com
London Grammar put on a tight show at the Electric Factory
London Grammar, the magnificent trio of British electro poppers, returned to Philadelphia for the third time in two years for a magnificent set that was only really hampered by its predictability. For the uninitiated, London Grammar take the kind of ethereal trip-hop aesthetics that Portishead cultivated back in the 90s, throw in a healthy dose of modern electronic sensibilities and fill them with beautiful vocals that easily glide between soft spoken crooning and booming declarations of love and loss.
The group themselves are on a forward momentum that belies their shy nature, and every(wo)man attitudes. Electric Factory is the perfect venue for their unique sonic capabilities. It’s open layout allows for Hannah Reid’s voice to echo off the walls and really let loose, and the soft/loud dynamic kept things surprising. But I can’t let go of the feeling that I’ve been here before. In fact, with the exception of one or two variations, the setlist is almost a copy and paste job from the last time they were in town, and the time before that. From the release of the album till now, I would have expected at least a restructuring, if not a new cover song or two, or at the very best an entirely new track, even if it is in beta form.
The one refreshing variable that really does accompany them with each visit, however, is their impeccable taste in opening acts. Until The Ribbon Breaks keep the tradition alive and well. Leaning more towards the hip-hop/neo-R&B side of things instrumentally, but sticking very much to alterna-pop aura, the British trio was a hyperactive kick off to the evening.
Waving between the percussive and the synthetic, it’s one of those talented acts that could have all 3 members playing drums at once, or drummer-synth-trumpeter organization the next. A guest appearance on screen by venerable Run The Jewels was an entertaining 60 seconds, while clips from an eclectic set of movies such as Akira and Romeo + Juliet filled the background out for the rest of the show, a solid back drop on a stage that could fit an orchestra populated by only 3 people.