Tuesday 5 March 2024

The Last Dinner Party / Rachel Chinouriri - Hebden Bridge Trades Club - 4th March 2024

The Last Dinner Party are the name on everyone's lips right now, love or hate them. Fresh from topping the charts with their debut album Prelude To Ecstasy they played what promises to be their smallest full band show for a long time with a War Child gig at Hebden Bridge Trades Club on Monday night supported by Rachel Chinouriri.

Rachel Chinouriri opens up the evening and the Zimbabwean-born singer and her band delight a packed Trades Club with a set of songs taken from her forthcoming debut album What A Devastating Turn Of Events. Brimming with personality and soul which run through the heart of each and every one of the songs in her thirty-five minute set, she's an absolute joy to watch. She sings, so she tells us, of her experiences on dating sites and the trials and tribulations of love, from falling for her best friend Marcus to being treated badly, promising never to do it again, and then doing just that with music as her means of trying to make sense of it all.

Her voice is strong, powerful and accentuates the emotions. A woman to our left is in tears at one song such is the connection that she makes with her music. The album's title track and the wonderful Maybe I'm Lonely, which gets to the heart of why people put up with shit on dating sites, are the standouts, but the set never once drops in quality. She loses herself in the music, swaying, dancing, and letting her band consume her in the moments she's not singing. The crowd love her, whether it's those who know her like much of the front rows, or those like us for whom this is our first experience. She's a superstar and an inspiration in waiting.

The Last Dinner Party are already superstars. A number one album, an orchestrated campaign to dampen their achievements and play down their growth from venues of this size in London to multiple sell-out Academy size venues across the country and a fanbase that spans all ages, their rise has been astronomical but absolutely deserved. Their absolute joy at being on stage and performing together is still undimmed, they revel tonight in being so close to their audience and feeling that connection in a way that they will have to come to terms with losing in the bigger spaces. When Abigail and Georgia head into the crowd during a raucous Lady Of Mercy it felt like they'd been transported back to their early days of Brixton Windmill.

The set is as you'd expect with a number one album fresh in their pockets predominantly taken from Prelude To Ecstasy, concluding with a gloriously loose Nothing Matters that two hundred and fifty people sing back to them at a volume that almost drowns them out. There's a few surprises though. Lizzie was born in Hebden Bridge and expresses her love for the town and Yorkshire in general in an emotional interlude before performing a delightful cover of Catherine Howe's 60s song Up North, whilst Nothing Matters is preceded by a rare outing for Godzilla, an early track that didn't make the cut for the album, but which the fans down the front, who Abigail teases have seen them thousands of times already, know word for word. A new song Second Best also suggests that they're no flash-in-the-pan either.

Technical difficulties with Emily's guitars allows Lizzie to make the joke that they're definitely playing live, as a retort to some of the criticism that's been thrown their way about being manufactured in some laboratory where record labels churn out the next big thing. They're tight live, but don't simply replicate the recorded songs verbatim. Emily is allowed much more freedom to let loose on guitar, one of the leaders of a new generation of women showing men how it's done, whilst Georgia's bass playing and stand-in drummer Casper's rhythm section is crucial at holding the songs together. Some of the best moments are when they harmonise together, Abigail's lead being lifted by an angelic choir of backing vocals.  

There's moments of theatre in the set, but the most telling are those where there feels like a genuine communion in the room, particularly between the band and the young (and older) women for whom The Last Dinner Party are a genuine inspiration. Music can act as the greatest means of escape from everything else going on in the world. They may have been misquoted in the press, but the world does need moments where you can shut the cost-of-living crisis out of your mind and lose yourself in a different and better place irrespective of whatever upbringing you may have had.  A Last Dinner Party show is one of those places.

The Last Dinner Party's website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

Rachel Chinouriri is on Facebook and Twitter.

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