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Review: Hotel Lux - 21/02/20 - Think Tank?, Newcastle - Gigs North East

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Review: Hotel Lux – 21/02/20 – Think Tank?, Newcastle

25/02/2020

Articulate, topical and fearlessly outspoken, London via Portsmouth 5-piece Hotel Lux impressed when they came to rock Think Tank, Newcastle…

Pacing menacingly around Think Tank’s stage on Friday night was Lewis Duffin, front-man of London via Portsmouth 5 piece, Hotel Lux. Replacing the biting cold of storm Dennis outside with their biting and witty lyrics, Hotel Lux hyped up the crowd all throughout their ten-song set. 

Support for Hotel Lux came in the form of two bands. Swears and Legss. Swears are the Middlesbrough based alt-rock 4-piece who find influence in grunge, doom, punk and pop. Legss, who are touring with Hotel Lux and played their first gig outside of London on Friday, are the four-piece spoken word band who have a lot to say. With witty lyrics that seem more like poetry than songs, they blended in perfectly with headliners Hotel Lux. 

Named after a communist safe house, Hotel Lux are the band who aren’t afraid to venture into odious corners when it comes to the subjects of their songs. Politically charged, saturnine lyrics over dramatic beats, fitting Hotel Lux into one genre feels next to impossible. There are heavy doses of post-punk with underlying notes of ska. Think Half Man Half Biscuit meets The Specials combined with droning spoken vocals. 

Instrumentally, the five-piece was next to flawless. Particularly guitarist, keyboard player and backing vocalist Sam Coburn who may be the actual king of multitasking. 

First up on their setlist (which, by the way, was written in biro on the back of a torn-up box of Stella Artois), was “Eddie’s Gaff”. “Eddie’s Gaff” has yet to be released but carries Hotel Lux’s signature sound.

“Berlin Wall,” the second song of the night was one of the songs which stood out the most to me. “Berlin Wall” was catchy, and I could almost imagine Terry Hall providing vocals to the instrumentals of the song.

More upbeat than the previous songs was “English Disease,” a song offering up a witty commentary of English pub culture. “English Disease” tells tales of tinnies, sitting at a bar drinking Stella Artois, and frittering away money on the horses… and Hotel Lux gave a ‘Stella’ performance of this tune. Contrary to the majority of the songs it had a bouncy hook. 

Third from last on the setlist, was an unreleased song “Vice”. Out of all of the unreleased songs Hotel Lux performed of the night, I’d say that “Vice” was definitely my favourite. 

Very relevant to current affairs was “Tabloid Newspaper”. Pointing out the discrepancies between the truth and what is reported within the pages of the Tabloids, “Tabloid Newspaper” is fun in its sound and performance but serious within its meaning. 

If you’re a viewer of TV drama, Peaky Blinders, you’ve probably heard the final song of the night. “The Last Hangman” was featured in an episode of the show. This beautifully gruesome song tells the story of executioner Albert Pierrepoint. The repetitiveness of “The Last Hangman” creates a dramatic and sordid atmosphere to the tune. It’s a song that hits you hard, and sounds amazing while it does it. 

Articulate, topical and fearlessly outspoken, if Hotel Lux aren’t already on your radar… they should be.  

Words: Law Emilia

Photo: Rhi Harper

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