Son Lux | Village Underground | 21 October 2015
Blame smartphones, earbuds, iTunes, Spotify, that incessant rattling of the tube, or the sales team in your open-plan office. Whatever the reason, listening to music has become an insular — rather than communal — experience.
Gigs are one of the few remaining exceptions — and Ryan Lott takes full advantage. Despite being stuck behind his keyboard for much of the set, the Son Lux mastermind uses every opportunity to connect with — and unite — the audience. Whether he’s earnestly addressing the capacity crowd between songs, conducting the mass singalong of ‘I Am The Others’, or thanking his fans with a sincerity that can’t be faked, the frontman wants tonight to feel truly inclusive.
Of course, his songs play their part too. On record, beneath even the iciest synth and most avante garde arrangement, lies a sea of emotions. On stage, those feelings — ranging from joy to anguish — come crashing to the surface. And it’s all down to the performers.
Lott wrings everything from his rich, Peter Gabriel voice and, hunched down, the electronics in front of him. Rafiq Bhatia adds essential textures, crafts otherworldly sounds, or just shreds on his guitar. And Ian Chang drums with the power and finesse required from the sometimes raw, sometimes fragile music.
Like the trippy rendition of ‘This Time’ featuring tribal rhythms and pscyhedelic guitar freakouts. Or the joyous set centrepiece, ‘Easy’, which benefits from an extended jam breakdown highlighting the band’s tight, jazz-like improvisation abilities and sparks spontaneous in-time clapping from the crowd.
And as Lott looks up from his gadgets and notices the audience participation, his broad smile is one of genuine delight. A perfect reflection, then, of the people who’ve filled the Village Underground to take part in the Son Lux experience.