Standing at the pulpit, surveying the congregation, vocalist Effie Lawrence exudes a calmness beyond her years. There’s certainly no hint of the excitement that’s surely bubbling through Anorak Patch right now. Great acclaim has greeted their single releases over the past year – including Radio 1 and 6 Music playlist glory and quickly selling out the vinyl new single Delilah. That was easy though. Tonight, is the true test. This is the hometown headline gig for Effie, Eleanor, Oscar and Luca. The deconsecrated church of Colchester Arts Centre is packed with disciples and recent converts seeking thrilling indie pop salvation. No pressure.
Suited and booted drummer Luca kicks off the service with the hookah-laden, sandblasted beats of Blue Jeans. His deadpan delivery beautifully fragranced by Effie’s harmonies and some majestic tempo changes conjures up images of shimmering mirages and bazaars.
Unfazed – or just amazed – by the packed aisle before her Effie continues to ooze cool taking over vocal duties as she continues staring out from behind her keyboard. Slickly going through their indie hymn sheet before hitting the triple delight of the playlist pleasers. The crashing tempo and deliciously disjointed tale of the “far too long” holiday on 6 Week Party gets the mosh pit going. Then the three minute alt-pop perfection of new single Delilah – describing the desire to break free from home-town confinement – adds irony to proceedings. Lockdown lament Irate brings menace with Effie asking ”Simon says what is in your head, what is in your head…?” – it’s the Anorak Patch anthem for doomed youth.
For much of the gig Effie seems preachy keen to stand poker-faced at her keyboard as if waiting for the crowd to settle before delivering her sermon. Later though, she struggles to contain the devout demand for the cheeky crowd pleaser Beans – quietly advising people to be patient. The delay is due to disco. A remarkable cover of the 1977 Baccara hit – Yes Sir, I Can Boogie – follows, with the whole band visibly loosening up in a boogie-woogie way – clearly they just needed this certain song to bump their moves. The leap from grunginess to glitterball grooves would be insurmountable even for established old duffers but Anorak Patch so sublimely bridge that gap.
So to the eagerly anticipated finale of Beans. Bassist Eleanor starts the guff and nonsense before smartly dressed stickman Luca resumes his Ernold Same style persona with the obvious nod to fellow Colcestrians Blur. Of course, beans means moshing!
There’s a sweet synchronicity that Britain’s “oldest recorded town” should produce such youthful vibrancy. An old football pundit once cynically said “you can’t win anything with ‘kids’” Anorak Patch had already won over their Essex flock and this was a most triumphant return.