Bicep (Live) at Hope Works: Review
Northern-Irish house duo Bicep brought their highly anticipated live show to Hope Works on Friday, in support of their critically acclaimed self-titled debut LP released in September. With a hard-hitting line-up including Hammer and Hope Works’ curator Lo Shea and other Sheffield residents, it proved to be an impressive start to the Halloween weekend. We sent Greg Brown down to see if the much hyped show lived up to expectation.
Despite calls from the crowd during the night of wishing for more than the 75-minute set, the later response was one of overwhelming positivity and elation. The Bicep boys themselves remained as collected ever, playing out to an audience whose expectations had been set high since the gig was announced over 4 months ago. And true to form, the Northern Irish duo delivered an intricate and well-mastered live set, adding new flavours to older tracks and much of the new record.
From the start of the set with album-opener ‘Orca’, to the synth-heavy tracks played later on, the energy and excitement maintained throughout the crowd was impressive, with heavy layering of vocals, synths and drums during transitions to disguise incoming tracks and fill them with more depth to suit the warehouse space. Standout moments came in the form of euphoric album-closer ‘Aura’ played two-thirds through the set, and an intricate live version of older track ‘Celeste’ to finish. Its spacey, piano-based melody provided a fitting contrast to the rest of a beat-heavy set which, despite gaining momentum from start to finish, left some of the audience including myself wanting more, perhaps in a good way.
The live set certainly replaced some of the ecstasy of a Bicep DJ set in favour of a more delicate and reserved approach, naturally focusing more on the performance of the aforementioned album, leaving elements of the set feeling ‘safe’ and constrained by the need to tour and promote the new release. Regardless, the production of the show was executed to perfection, with vivid lighting and visual elements displaying the three-armed Bicep logo, matching the hefty sound which really brought out the best in Bicep’s analogue productions, leaving the stunned crowd in need of a breather and proving just why they are currently one of house music’s most sought-after acts.
Bicep released their eponymous debut album on Ninja Tune on September 1st and are currently on a huge Europe tour, hitting Lyon and Paris next weekend.
Words: Greg Brown
Photos: Tim Glasby