Looking towards the future
Chew Lips - Live At Soup Kitchen, Manchester

On the same night that 75,000 revivalists are stood in a north Manchester park trying to reclaim their past, a smaller but perfectly select bunch are nestled into the rustic basement of the city centre’s Soup Kitchen. These Madchester defectors are more interested in the future – and the perfect electro-pop of Chew Lips.

It’s been two-and-a-half years since their sparkling debut ‘Unicorn’ and, having recently signed to Sony, Chew Lips are road-testing tracks for their as-yet-untitled second album, due out early next year. “We are aware there is another gig on tonight. Thank you for choosing us,” says singer Tigs before the band launch into the opening ‘Great Escape’, a new song which bubbles along until a skyscraping chorus startles the crowd into some early doors ass-wiggling.

Officially, Chew Lips are now a duo but for their live show Tigs and multi-instrumentalist James Watkins are joined by drummer Aicha Djidjelli. The addition morphs Chew Lip’s minimal ohrwurm hooks into thumping dance stompers. Along with Watkins’ driving bass and squelching synth lines, the stellar ‘Play Together’, from ‘Unicorn’, is upgraded into a monster choon, while another new track – and in any just world a global smash hit-in-waiting – ‘Hurricane’ sounds like future classic pop, primed and ready for late-night action. The recent R&B-flecked single ‘Do You Chew?’ is simply immense.

In Tigs, Chew Lips have a frontwoman who implicitly understands that an audience wants to be entertained. She’s utterly watchable as she preens and teases her way through the hour long set. Instead of navigating the tiny, uneven stage, Tigs spends most of her time virtually in the front row, singing atop the monitors and delivering a note-perfect vocal performance.

While the crowd lap up old favourites ‘Seven’ and debut single ‘Solo’, it’s clear that new tracks, such as the euphoric ‘Chances’ and the driving punch of ‘Lupo’, are already hitting their intended mark. Post-gig, both James and Tigs seem content with their night’s work - while the past is being played out elsewhere, Chew Lips’ future is looking decidedly rosy.

Words by John Freeman

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