Accompanied by support Astronauts, the triad of female talent, Haiku Salut, set church St Johns in Bethnal Green very much like a living room, deceptively making you feel cosy and snug, before entrancing you with their erratic, strobe-like lamp show.
Astronauts, who, as I was sitting far from the talent, could feign to be Alexis Taylor’s fragile vocals, and Bill Bailey’s awkward humour, were a lovely warm-up for the cinematic show that was about to astound us, allowing for a comfortably numb sitting, as church pews are far from restful, despite the ambience of the St Johns in Bethnal Green, the dimmed candlelight of the revere venue.
Haiku Salut drastically differed in the vibe, and setting. Deceptively suggestive of a living room setting within the dimly lit church, most that are not aware of this bands trademark might be alluded into thinking that the rest of the evenings activities will keep their ears hugged and their hearts unperturbed, and their stomachs fed by grandma’s Brussels sprouts.
With much flickering of lights, televisions and laptop screens in synchronicity with the rhythm of their music, it is clear that there will be enough visual stimulants to move us from our unflustered comfort zone. Fragmented in light and sound, this show worked fantastically for some but was perhaps too jarred for those that are not conscious of their style.
Lacking in fluidity, a noun which one of the Astronauts kept referring to throughout their set, the fragmentation of Haiku Salut’s set list, interjecting their pulsating piano sound, with a touch of the twee Parisian, oft compared to the Amelie OST, with a more electronic, albeit gentle culmination of an instrumental pick and mix, which does mean that they do get affiliated with the likes of Múm and Yann Tierson.
Incorporating tracks such as You Dance a Particular Algorithm, Leaf Stricken and Glockelbar into their set, there was a distinct versatility on display from the trio, spasmodic in delivery; the set list was also synched with the fantastically alluring lamp show.
The trio from Derbyshire, Gemma, Louise and Sophie, who modestly refer to their sound as ‘Baroque-Pop-Folktronic-Neo-Classical-Something-Or-Other’ are blatantly aware of their uncommitted sound, and inability to remain loyal to one genre. Showcasing multi-tasking at its best, interchanging instruments frenetically throughout this performance it is without question that these three are enviously trained on a surfeit of musical appliances, and clearly not just the traditional.
As for the lamp show itself, it is only their third attempt live and performed, and one which makes me (and the rest sat well-behaved consuming bottles of red wine) feel like they are witnessing something exclusively exceptional. Seamless in delivery, the living room vintage lamps strewn across the front of the church below a statue of Jesus himself meant that many on pews were straining their necks to see the chromatic display, which one does not always get the pleasure of at a gig.
I will note that this type of performance did drag out the ‘instagrammers’, and social media crowd, occasionally standing in the middle of the aisle, disrupting the show for the remainder of the audience, which is of course, by no means, the fault of the band.
Entrancing, mesmerising, the audience mostly kept their noise to a awe-struck silence, perhaps feeling the etiquette of the traditional church congregation. With a gig such as this, St Johns was perfect, reducing the noise, formalising the crowd, adding to the darkened ether, and the triad for perhaps that very reason looked to enjoy the performance.
After an anticipated encore for more of the same, the girls modestly could not keep their audience absorbed for much longer, as they had little in the way of back-catalogue to refer to. I think I can speak for the vast majority at this gig when I say that more French arrangements of accordion, piano and glockenspiel are hoped for. Modest in size, performance and location, it was unexpected that all would be leaving this gig in such high spirits.
You can see more photos of Haiku Salut’s lamp show by Cathy Dupuy here