Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward’s She & Him arrived in North London to play their first ever UK show, the first of two that sandwiched their appearance at the Matt Groening-curated ATP. With a crowd full of girls dressed in Zooey-style fashion, its clear she is now a style icon and the majority of the audience were probably here to see her. That’s to take nothing away from M. Ward, it’s just not often Koko opens its doors to a genuine film star. Now two very impressive albums in, it was about time that She & Him entered the live arena, and the duo were accompanied by five other members to confirm the full live band. Support act The Chapin Sisters helped out on backing vocals and were crystal clear.
When the band took to the stage, She left it a little late but Zooey came bouncing on literally the moment the first note of ‘I Was Made For You’ was played, there were screams (again, mainly from the girls), although it did seem that many did not know the song, perhaps ‘Volume One’ has not reached the masses’ iPods yet? Anyhow, the opener of ‘Volume Two’, ‘Thieves’, gained a far more positive response and the band were really hitting their flow. M. Ward was starting to come into his own with a sheer stage presence and immense guitar work. And his voice on the backing vocals was starting to dominate over Zooey. It’s a nice contrast and works perfectly. Between songs, it was a surprise that the She seemed so nervous and almost shy, she fumbled with her microphone and the sheer size of the venue seemed to intimidate her, luckily the Him helped out by taking over the majority of gratitudes and between-song banter. When Zooey moved over to her keyboard, she seemed to struggle with her mic even more, but her singing was never affected. A short acoustic interlude in the middle of the set gave both Zooey the chance to show off her stirring vocals and M. Ward his striking guitar work. A cover of Ella Fitzgerald’s ‘Would You Like To Take A Walk’ was stunning and the small pocket of M.Ward fans near the back were treated to a version of his very own ‘Magic Trick’. They made their voices heard and it was rare to hear something shouted out other than “I love you, Zooey”, which one girl seemed intent on shouting at every pause. After this acoustic section, they went straight into their biggest single ‘In The Sun’, which had the loudest reaction of the night - and some people even started dancing. This reaction seemed to spur the band on, and Zooey came out of her shell to start looking and dancing like the energetic frontwoman you’d imagine her to be. A real party atmosphere developed and the band ran through the rest of the main set in record time, with all the short songs following each other in a perfectly-constructed setlist. ‘Sweet Darlin’ finished the set with both Zooey and M. Ward on the same keyboard jamming while the crowd clapped along. After 22 songs, you’d have thought there wouldn’t be much left for the band to play but they returned for two covers, one of Frank Sinatra’s ‘Fools Rush In’ and then M. Ward’s real chance to shine, when he took the lead on a frenetic, frantic and fun take on ‘Roll Over Beethoven’. It was awesome and would have finished any set in style and also reminded everyone just how brilliantly raucous 50s rock ‘n’ roll was. The band went off stage again, but still Zooey and M. Ward returned for another encore – this time just the two of them and they performed a dramatic and intense cover of ‘I Put A Spell On You’. You could hear a pin drop before the duo finally left to rapturous applause. Image by Loralai Lovebuckett