REVIEW: India Electric Company, Ashcroft Arts Centre, Fareham

Joseph O'Keefe and Cole Stacey, India Electric Company

Joseph O'Keefe and Cole Stacey, India Electric Company

Tall Ships. Picture: Morgan Sinclair

Tall Ships aim to leave positive Impressions on their return to Brighton

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There’s an easy charm about India Electric Company that belies the emotional intensity of their best work.

Singer Cole Stacey and multi-instrumentalist Joseph O’Keefe draw heavily from their debut album, but also pack this hour-and-a-half show with plenty of other delights.

Their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire is a regular in their sets and is delivered as a smouldering, spare rendition, while a less-played version of Van Morrison’s Rough God Riding is a welcome guest.

Before the halfway interval the pair announce they want to play completely acoustically and step in front of their microphones, before heading up into the audience as they continue playing. It’s a simple but effective trick.

Along the way we get to find out about where they get their ideas (seashanties.com apparently covers ‘everything’), Joe’s mismatched socks – he plays keyboard with his feet while on the accordion, and why touring musicians should never take the train from Waterloo to Fareham with all their gear.

But aside from the between-song joking, once they start to perform, the music takes over. Cole’s voice is capable of portraying the longing and heartache of the songs – a spare I Can’t Make You Love Me is a devastating highlight. And Joe, switching between an array of instruments, matches his partner in wringing everything he can from his tools.

Another set highlight is Heimat, from their debut, The Girl I Left Behind Me. We’re told it’s inspired by the WH Auden poem Refugee Blues, which lends the song extra power.

The duo are often found backing and supporting Midge Ure on his tours, but they are worth catching on their own where they really have the chance to spread their wings.

Don’t miss them when they come back this way at the Square Tower, Old Portsmouth, on June 19 as part of The Portsmouth Festivities.

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