It’s always surprising how divisive a pop gig can be for metalheads. Fortunately, followers of Dan Tompkins (Skyharbor, et al) are no stranger to the singer’s forays into seemingly ‘blasphemous’ territory, with last year’s well-regarded White Moth Black Butterfly album and this year’s fruition of a new exciting project called In Colour. Collaborating with Sikth guitarist/producer Dan Weller and keyboardist Ciaran Cahill, In Colour indulge in their pure and unadulterated love of 80s and 90s pop. After a brief test run earlier this year, the band were back in London for another round of showcasing tracks from their upcoming album. So, it was time to head down to the Barfly in Camden and witness their infectious tunes.
The support acts were mercifully much more suited to In Colour‘s sound than the gig last month and prepared the audience’s ears for something-not-as-pummelling-as-we-would-expect from the two Dans’ usual bands. Tusks had the duty of opening the show, and I must take my hat off to them for persevering despite adverse circumstances. The duo had to rework most of their set about an hour before the gig due to their drum pad malfunctioning, and so what the audience saw was a somber and almost ethereal set on keyboard and guitar. Tusks herself, Emily Underhill, possessed a lovely voice reminiscent of Emiliana Torrini or Lykke Li, and a humble attitude that suited the downtempo sound. Ivy & Gold afterwards were of a similar fare, except minus a guitar and plus programmed drums, which made for a more memorable instrumental backing while their singer was a little more of an acquired taste, caught between Röyksopp and the goth-pop of Zola Jesus.
Soon thereafter, the lights dimmed once more and the In Colour quartet (without their bassist) hit the stage to booming applause, and so glorious pop proceeded to flow from the speakers. All the equipment onstage made it difficult to move around so each member locked into his own groove while seated or rooted to the spot. The biggest groove of all came from the hulking Darren Baxter on drums, who bashed the kit with great gusto and provided a solid danceable rhythm throughout. Meanwhile, the sound mix alternated between highlighting Weller‘s guitar melodies or Cahill‘s synth ones, each interchanging for the spotlight depending on the track. And finally, Tompkins was on fine singing form as we have come to expect, delivering a beautiful performance with his piercing gaze on the dancing crowd. By now the familiar uptempo ‘The Mess We’re In’ and stunning post-rock-esque vibes of ‘Listen For The Rain’ gained a visible reaction from the crowd and are sure to be firm favorites on the upcoming album, but the set as a whole was a joy to watch.
As someone who struggles to recall the last proper pop gig I went to, the night was a wonderful break from the usual extreme and harsh noises in my ears. In Colour have a very bright future ahead of them and, with the release of their upcoming début, I predict even greater achievements than tonight’s top-notch gig.