Chromeo At The Roundhouse: Replacing Irony With Shameless Homage

They're accused of being a one trick pony, but the synth-pop duo aren't letting anyone down tonight...
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They're accused of being a one trick pony, but the synth-pop duo aren't letting anyone down tonight...

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Tonight started badly. If Chromeo wondered why a pit photographer spent the opening songs flicking through family holiday snaps, it was because his SLR’s memory card borrowed from his mother was full. So, while the ‘only successful Arab/Jewish partnership since the dawn of human culture’ po-go’d through the synth stabs of Tenderoni, and Night by Night, I frantically deleted photos of my Dad looking awkward in hotel lobbies and pictures of goats (!), until I freed enough space to start shooting. Showing interest in family holiday snaps is hard enough, without an enthusiastic electro-funkster thrusting his crotch in your direction.

Dave1 and P-Thugg, as they’re presumably unknown to their mothers, are so in the thrall of the 80s that it’s been hard to know if they’re taking the piss, but the recent White Women has done a Daft Punk, and replaced irony with shameless homage. With Cars and Girls, Prefab Sprout once perfectly distilled Bruce Springsteen songs down to two subjects; they could go one further with Chromeo, as every song concerns Girls. And in case you miss this, their keyboard stands are stiletto-ed legs, like an electro ZZ Top. This fuels their detractors, who accuse them of not experimenting, of being a one trick pony, but one trick is better than none, and besides when did anyone last see a one-trick pony; I bet they compare surprisingly well to CGI. Chromeo may not be experimental, they’re the musical equivalent of a supercar’s gull wing doors closing, but a gig bookended by chanting of ‘CHROMEO’, suggests few complaints, other than the shortness of set. There’s no one here wondering why they haven’t recorded their experimental, corrugated iron album.

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The duo belong to a world proudly admitting to synthguitars in album credits, and know the 80s was stemmed in the 70s - the smooth productions of Foreigner and Fleetwood Mac. They’re also probably the only band shamelessly admitting to liking the blue-eyed soul of Hall and Oates, and for this alone they should be applauded.

As with all bands, they play new songs they’re more pleased with than the crowd, and while airing novelty-esque Frequent Flyer instead of the tight soul of Old 45s probably won’t make Classic Rock’s letters page, Smash Hits would be having an aneurism.

Their bonhomie is palatable even from the bar; having a better time than a crowd more up for it than a NASA rocket is quite an achievement. And if there’s better reasons to join a band than reflecting spotlights off your chrome guitar across an adoring crowd, I’d like to know it. It’s pop as genre, not popularity, and indulges such bedroom fantasies that they might as well be using hairbrushes for microphones, but as couples snog to the sultry disco of 2010’s Don’t turn the lights on, perhaps they’re making a bigger impact then given credit for.