Summer Camp @ Joiners Live, Southampton. 14/11/11 (Live Review)

Summer Camp @ Joiners Live 14/11/2011.

Blogosphere hype can be as much a curse as it can be promotional gold, and many a band have experienced the tightening of its noose around their neck as they’ve taken their unready, undeveloped act on the road. The London duo of Jermey Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey are thankfully not one of these however, and appear primed and accomplished enough to have fully earned any praise heaped upon their Summer Camp moniker as they negotiated the stage at The Joiners.

Backed by projected visuals – largely clips of dance scenes from ‘80s American movies – and the addition of a new drummer for this tour, Summer Camp’s perfectly crafted alt-pop proved more than just a clever pastiche, and transferred well from the shimmering production of debut album Welcome to Condale to the live show.

Beginning the set unplugged and in the crowd, with an acoustic guitar-led version of album opener ‘Better Off Without You’ that slowly drifted onstage into a full blown electric ending, the band then dealt expertly with a small number of technical difficulties that can only be expected with the amount of gear surrounding them.

The visuals dancing away behind them affirm the fully realised Summer Camp concept: one locked firmly in the ‘80s American high school prom, with a healthy dash of Spector-backed ‘60s girl groups. The clips projected behind them were generally obscure enough to not distract from the band (although a perfectly selected excerpt from Teen Wolf backed ‘Brian Krakow’ well), but it was on early track ‘Veronica Sawyer’, with Sankey slinking away from her gadgets to work the crowd with a bit of stage school swagger, that the band really came into their own.

Summer Camp – ‘Welcome To Condale’ album cover

A couple at the front of the crowd waltzed along to the stomp of ‘Ghost Train’, and a beautifully pared down acoustic version of ‘Losing My Mind’, sung with genuine feeling by the duo as they faced each other, proved to any doubters that there is real song writing flair underneath the synths and drum machines.

As they closed with the stunning composition ‘I Want You’, with one last defiant cry from Sankey, arm held aloft in tandem with that of Judd Nelson from the Breakfast Club clip on screen, it began to dawn on a few people in the room that this could well be the last time they would see Summer Camp playing somewhere as small as Joiners Live. Big things surely beckon.

Welcome to Condale is out now on Moshi Moshi records.


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