The Hope is packed with a bright young and vibrant crowd tonight. As Illfxx take to the beautifully dressed stage, frontman Billy announces “We’ve officially just sold out.”
Not bad for one of the first headline shows by Room Service and the official live debut, as a proper band of Illfxx.
Illfxx are a talented bunch of musicians, and they clearly enjoy jamming together. The songs are a mix of jazz, hip hop and funk underpinned by some excellent drumming from Tom.
They also understand how to work the stage and spread the fun, with most of the musicians taking solos, and not being afraid to let rip. Charlie, Alex and David all take their turn centre stage. We can certainly imagine stumbling into Chai Wallahs, in the early hours of the morning at Boomtown or Shambala, and finding these guys rocking the joint.
To achieve that, the songwriting will have to become a touch sharper, and the hooks a little more, well hookier, but there is every indication that this will happen as the band grows in confidence. They even find some time for disco in ‘Scoosh’.
After a brief interlude Room Service take to the stage with a relaxed flamboyant style, panache oozing from every pore. The six-piece band have all made the effort to look amazing, which is appreciated.
Sadly they never quite get the chance to relax as much as they would have liked, thanks to an off-putting electrical buzz, which seems to be linked to the keyboard. They rise above it however, and it’s these experiences, and the ability to get through it, that make a band.
The styles come thick and fast, and the band regularly swap positions and instruments on stage. Zach’s tracks have some delicious funk drumming and wah guitar. Nez takes the mic for ‘Dev’s Song’ and delivers some doo-wap style vocals over a track that has touches of soul mixed with Simon & Garfunkel.
“This one is about ADHD,” says Helena as she announces a new track, called ‘Tiffany Applegate’. Despite the challenging subject matter, the chorus of “We keep on falling, but we get back up” is delivered perfectly by Helena over the top of an easy listening take on Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Paradise City’. It feels like it was ripped from the soundtrack to a critical moment in a 90s Richard Curtis romcom, where a young Julia Roberts finally overcomes the film’s trials and tribulations and kisses Hugh Grant. That may sound like faint praise, but it really does imply the band are sat on one hell of a feel-good pop song.
Dev leaves the drums behind forcing Helena to take off her high-heeled boots and get behind the kit. He is both a lively drummer and a naturally jovial frontman. New single ‘Cosmos’ then takes the crowd on a psychedelic ride.
The set comes to a raucous close with their big party banger. Back behind the kit, Dev has a cheeky Timothy Leary-esque glint in his eye as he announces, “This is about a man from Brussels. If you’re gonna mosh: get loose.” It’s hard not to do exactly what he demands. ‘JCVD’ really is a brilliant song. Everyone is jumping about. Dev could well be making his lyrics up on the spot whilst hitting out a funky rhythm and the rest of them all lock into the groove of the party.
The Hope & Ruin, Monday 20th February 2023
Words by Nick McAllister
Photos by Phoebe Wrapson