With their name and much of the subject matter of their tower block modernist folk taken from this side of the river, South London duo Elephants and Castles couldn’t really have held the launch party for their new EP anywhere else (except perhaps a few miles up the road in SE1) and the intimate and independent community cinema in Deptford is a perfect choice of venue. Loaded up with free bottles of red lemonade and explicit instructions to save them for later, we take our seats for an opening set of well-crafted acoustic indie from Harry of Bengal Lancers that is warmly received by the sold out crowd.
Suitably warmed up, we’re treated to a stunning set from the headliners: gorgeous two-part harmonies, choruses that adhere to the temporal lobe without becoming an irritation, and real lyrical depth all come together to forge a sound that is both solemn and uplifting in equal measure.
Perhaps it’s the setting, the occasion, a crowd that is clearly on their side from the off or the copious quantities of Irish whiskey that’s been passed around to bolster the aforementioned red lemonade (the beverage in question providing a track title on the new release), but Elephants & Castles have never sounded better than they do tonight. Lit by a simple colour-cycling projector they pour out gentle odes to modernist architecture, laments to the exodus of traditional working class families from central London and tales of community spirit amongst the concrete, backed only by an acoustic guitar and twinkling glockenspiel.
The evening is rounded off with the premiere of three new videos, one for each track from the EP. ‘Concrete Love’, their ode to modernist architect Erno Goldfinger, is backed by an amusing romp as the duo wander the streets of London on a treasure hunt. ‘Red Lemonade’ is a more poignant affair featuring a cameo by Chris and Robin’s dads as the action flits back and forth across the time-line, while lead track ‘What’s Left for Larry & Janet?’ features a montage of footage from the excellent documentary ‘Larry & Janet Move Out‘, whose story of the last couple to be moved on from the now demolished Heygate Estate inspired the song. Each are marvelous in their own way and, as good art should, stick in the mind as I leave the venue and catch the 453 bus past that very site on my way home.
Watch all three videos below: