Drew McConnell's Helsinki Live @ 100 Club, London 02/03/2015
For the launch of the new album A Guide For The Perplexed, Drew McConnell's Helsinki chose the iconic 100 Club, which has previously hosted a fair amount of legends such as The Kinks, The Clash or The Rolling Stones. The venue being very wide with hardly no depth, means the furthest you can be from the stage is about 5 metres, which is a guaranty for a very intimate show. The band - including Patrick Walden on the guitar and Babyshambles' drummer Adam Falkner - opened the gig with Helsinki's new single Rising Heights.
The setlist rather evolved to a cresencdo, starting with folky melodies, and entering a more electric and intense phase by the second half of the performance. After 6 songs from the newly released A Guide For The Perplexed, McConnell announces he is going to play a song alone, and starts strumming the chords of New Pair - a song featured on previous album Coast Of Silence, as well as Babyshamble's Sequel To The Prequel - but he is joined by Falkner's bass drum halfway through, adding just the beat the tune needs.
The whole band then got back to their instruments before welcoming Emma Gillespie for the third time on stage, who this time, sang the main vocals on Keys, probably one of the most recent song played so far. On top of Gillespie' enchanting and transporting voice, the composition is very melodic with a pretty catchy chorus. The show continues to gain in energy, and it's time for a more rhythmic piece with reggae sonorities; a track originally featuring Pete Doherty which is called Choices, and is a cover of the French song Je Ne T'Aime Plus. McConnell who seems to have an interest in some kind of French music, said he started playing the chords before finding a resemblance with Manu Chao's song, which eventually lead him to write this cover version.
Before their penultimate song, Helsinki's singer invites the audience that has been enjoying the performance rather calmly and shyly, to come forward and make the best of the gig. He drops the guitar and grabs the mic from the stand to pour all his passion into The Very Last Boy Alive, another song from Coast of Silence and Sequel To The Prequel, which is with no doubt more adapted to McConnell's voice than Doherty's. The band closed the show with a very intense and emotional instrumental composition called The Batteries Weren't Dead, which is the fruits of the collaboration between Babyshambles' bassist and The Strokes' guitarist, Albert Hammond Jr.
Altogether, the performance didn't resemble anything like a Babyshamble's gig or a derivative of it, as one would think. Helsinki has got it's very own sound and identity, and A Guide For The Perplexed is the best title this new album could be given, for it will definitely confirm McConnell's talent to anyone questioning it.