While they may be lacking in a drum machine, Blue Hawaii certainly make up for it in brilliant banter and ethereal electro-pop. Sam Lambeth was there to review the cute Canadians.
Raphaelle Standell-Preston is a little stressed, although her version of ‘stressed’ is a lot different to everyone else’s. Moments before herself and Alex ‘Agor’ Kerby – better known as Blue Hawaii – took to the stage of Bethnal Green’s gloriously grubby Pickle Factory, one of their drum machines gave up the ghost. Throughout the set, Preston makes numerous nervous references to its malfunction, but in truth she needn’t have worried – Blue Hawaii deliver a set that’s both warm and haunting, fusing electro, jazz and pop in beautiful technicolour weaves.
New album Tenderness is a smorgasbord of sounds, and Kerby manages to run the musical gamut as opener ‘Two of Us’ unleashes a propulsive club beat. The more upbeat, danceable ‘Versus Game’ gets the bulging Bethnal Green audience swaying in joy, while ‘Belong To Myself’ allows Preston to show off her impressive vocal range.
Throughout the set, Preston provides plenty of ‘aw, shucks’-style stage banter that provides a human element to the electronics – you half expect her to interrupt one song to start crocheting and do an impromptu cover of Belle & Sebastian. Beneath the tweeness, though, is a sound that can be menacing, as evidenced in ‘Try To Be’. Mothballed song ‘In Two’, taken from their 2011 opus Untogether, is dedicated to “the original Blue Hawaii fans”, and an eclectic set of age ranges cheer and holler in appreciation.
As they leave the stage, still beaming from ear to ear and still cursing that damn drum machine, you realise Blue Hawaii may have lacked some equipment, but they made up for it in spirit.