Live Reviews

Gnarls Barkley Live

Hammersmith Apollo

Pink Floyd belting out over the speakers and a backing group wearing school uniforms aren’t exactly the setting you’d expect from the hip hop chart front runners Gnarls Barkley, but that’s the introduction they got when Cee-Lo bounded on stage in shorts and a school blazer. Dangermouse, the silent partner in the group, slunk from the background to the raised pedestal and manned the decks and other gadgets he had ready to roll.

Go Go Gadget Gospel was the first of their own tracks to blast out and with the drums sounding louder than a firework display, things were rockin’ from the very start. Cee-Lo’s demeanour is one of having fun, he was smiling throughout, even when singing, and he just looked like he wanted to have a good time. As they ran through the album’s strong points, from St Elsewhere to Feng Shui and Necromancing, the backing group grew in stature as they each came to the fore.

The string section sounded awesome and gave real depth to the performance when they were playing, and when they weren’t, they provided perfectly executed dance moves, clapping at their rights and lefts, shimming towards the floor and generally feeling the party-time vibe that was emanating from around them.

The two highlights of the night were the tracks Crazy [unsurprisingly] and new single Smiley Faces which got the desired results as Cee-Lo’s now blazer-less torso bopped and wound its way across the stage, the fantastic light show put on for the set beaming off his toothy grin. Of course, Crazy turned the night into a karaoke sing-a-long and this carried on into the encore which was finished off with an amazing cacophony of noise, bringing the fun to an end.

If you liked the singles, or if you have the album and feel that, then Gnarls bring that same entertainment to their live show. So if you can see them, and the selling out of the Apollo proved many people wanted to, make sure you go. Oh, and take your dancing shoes with you.

[Photo by Jen Saul]