Blue Hawaii at Birthdays, 21/05/13 The Montreal duo brought a healthy dose of rave to their Tuesday evening show in London.
Text: Suze Olbrich
Photography: Dmitry Serostanov
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I felt a flash of conspicuity ordering a glass of water at Birthdays’ bar towards the end of Blue Hawaii’s set earlier this week. Nothing at all strange about that at most gigs on a Tuesday evening, but as the Montreal duo’s set unfurled they seemed to accelerate time and alter the space, until it was 4am at a rave on a Saturday – and so the thought briefly passed my mind that the staff might read more into the water than they should. This was slightly disconcerting, although it shouldn’t have been; Agor Cowan has made no secret of the fact that Blue Hawaii’s live show would be much more of a club show than their delicately composed debut record, ‘Untogether’, would indicate.
Much was made in reviews of the fact that ‘Untogether’ was created by Cowan and Raphaelle Standall-Preston in separation. The elements that would suggest this are all but erased when you are faced with this pairing on stage. They are very much one being at their core, although one with opposing intents, it seems at times, of seduction versus devastation, a delicious mix indeed. Standall-Preston’s looped and layered vocal lines soar over the crowded room in turns icy then radiant, and are a thing of sheer delight. Cowan’s undulating techno beats make the tracks, all taken from ‘Untogether’, a far more forceful proposition. Midway through the set, by the time In Two is played, any restraint has been totally banished. The crowd – who at first seemed a little reticent to move, perhaps a little surprised by encountering a rave at 10pm mid-week – are now fully engaged and forcefully demanding “one more tune” by the end of a heroic set which could easily have stretched joyously far, far into the night.