I've never seen Hoxton Bar and Kitchen so busy on a week night; with signs on the door proudly proclaiming "Clock Opera tonight is SOLD OUT" there was a palpable sense of excitement in the air; something I've been wanting to see at their gigs since I first saw them (at this very venue, in fact) about 18 months ago.

After getting the dirt on their upcoming album (my lips are sealed, I'm afraid) I got a drink and waited for the doors to open, watching people queuing up to get their wrists stamped before they were even allowed in (queuing twice for the same gig was certainly a novel experience).

There on my own, it was nice to see a familiar face in Ben Mercer (aka Right Click Save As), who waxed lyrical about support band Zulu Winter, saying they were definitely one to watch. He wasn't wrong.

It would be easy to attribute the atmosphere to the fact that a good portion of the crowd appeared to be on their guest list, or that the lead sing had cheekbones you could shave with, but simply put, this band are damned good. Their guitar-driven electronica generated a great atmosphere in the already packed room, and I didn't spot a single person who wasn't enjoying themselves immensely.

It's difficult to pick a highlight from such a strong set, but if I had to choose a favourite it would probably be 'Never Leave' (which, having since googled it, is apparently their upcoming single, released on Double Denim on 7th November). The bass and guitar riffs come together wonderfully alongside sustained keys, and the noise breakdown in the middle is simply fantastic.

Apparently tonight was only their second ever live show, which puts their tightness and stage presence into a whole other league; they seemed so comfortable in the spotlight that the natural assumption is that they've been doing this for months, if not years. Definitely a band to watch out for, and further proof - if any were needed - that Double Denim really know how to pick 'em.

Key To My Heart
Moment's Drift
Back To Front
Never Leave
Small Pieces
Silver Tongue
You Deserve Better

The moment Zulu Winter finished their set, the crowd was already shifting, with friends of theirs moving back towards the bar and Clock Opera fans pushing to the front with an urgency I've not seen at previous gigs. Wanting to be close to the action, I decided I could live without a cigarette and instead stayed inside for Tom Vek's DJ set, which was well worth listening to  (and I'll go off on a brief aside to say it's great to see him back on the music scene again - I saw him perform live at TDK in 2005 and he was really very good indeed).

Now I don't think anyone would deny that Clock Opera need an extensive soundcheck to do them justice, but unfortunately much of this had to be repeated during the changeover, meaning that their advertised stage time of 9.10 was pushed back to more like 9.50. Any impatience people may have been feeling, however, disappeared instantly when the band launched into 'White Noise' with undisguised zeal, and the crowd went wild.

Technical problems at the start of 'Man Made' left Guy threatening to sing a capella Frank Sinatra at us, and he seemed quite concerned at the enthusiastic reception that particular idea was met with - further issues before 'Lost Boys' actually drove him to make good on that promise, to cheers and laughter from the crowd. But, for the most part, the set proceeded without problems, and what a set it was. 

We were treated to not one, not two but three whole new songs this evening - my favourite being 'Move To The Mountains', an evocative, euphoric number that had only previously been performed in a pizza restaurant in Dorset, which was absolutely adored by the crowd. Each new number was classic Clock Opera while at the same time being distinctly different not only from each other, but also from their previous work, and each one further cemented my view that Clock Opera are one of the most exciting things happening in music at the moment.

More recent singles 'Once And For All' and 'Belongings' were probably best received, with 'Belongings' easily being the highlight of the night for the majority of the crowd. I remain faithful to 'White Noise' as my personal favourite, although 'Lesson #7' provided a furious and incredible closer to a blinder of a set.

The crowd seemed utterly convinced an encore would be forthcoming, and were absolutely gutted when this proved not to be the case - actively booing the DJ when he started up. On a personal level I would have loved to have heard 'Alouette', but I would be lying if I said I was in any way disappointed with tonight's set, and it was utterly fantastic to see so many people enjoying Clock Opera as much as I have for the last 18 months. Plus Guy has  promised to play it for me next time and I fully intend to hold him to that promise.

White Noise
Man Made
Piece Of String
Move To The Mountains
Once And For All
Lost Boys
11th Hour
Lesson #7

Photos by Tim Ferguson

Zulu Winter

Clock Opera

Photos by Tim Ferguson