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  • Writer's pictureJO'B

Pip Blom, Heaven, London, 21st February 2024

Pip Blom are one of several European indie bands I am a little obsessed by right now. There is a growing scene there that's crossing over to the UK. Perhaps it's a reaction to the isolationism and idiocy of Brexit that music fans here are more welcoming to European bands than ever before. Personal Trainer are one of my favourite live bands now (we saw them four times last year and debating seeing them again soon). Their singer and Pip herself are dating - it's a rock'n'roll love story. Being quite soppy, I like this...

Mrs JO'B and I first heard Pip Blom at The Great Escape. We were knackered and ready to head home, but we managed to hold out a little longer to see them in a dingy nightclub, in the arches down by Brighton beach. I seem to recall it was mid-afternoon on a sunny day and being disoriented by the darkened room we wandered into. It was our last day at the festival, and I think I had had enough of beer and standing up. A seat was acquired (we are old now, sitting down at a gig in a nightclub is perfectly acceptable...) and we watched this four-piece blast our cobwebs away. Daddy Issues and Ruby, slices of Pixies meets The GoGos inspired indie pop, woke us back up and gave us the energy to keep going a little longer and I picked up their debut album Boat on the way back to Blackheath.

Since then, two more albums have been issued - Welcome Break came out in 2021 and was good, but hampered by lockdown and the lack of gigs. It took until late 2022 to see them playing these tracks live, supporting Maxïmo Park (see Maxïmo Park and Pip Blom, The Roundhouse, London, 7th October 2022). That was my gig of 2022 - not just for the fabulous headliners, but Pip Blom were on fire. Their songs are tight, compact, concise.

Towards the end of 2023, their third album was released - the poptastic Bobbie. This album feels a huge leap in terms of production, songwriting and pop sheen. It's still indie but the tunes are much more front and centre. Synths take over from the guitars and producer Dave McCraken co-writes several songs - his pop credentials include Beyoncé, Sugababes, Natalie Imbruglia and Depeche Mode - he is a big gun.

Guest vocalists feature including the Archduke of Franz Ferdinand, Alex Kapranos (on the giddy, infectious Is This Love?) and also Personal Trainer frontman and Pip's chap, Willem Smit (who duets on Kiss Me By The Candlelight). The latter is a highlight of the record, slinky, minimalist electro-disco.

This is pop perfection so I wonder how it will translate to the stage as we head into Heaven (the nightclub, not the celestial afterlife destination). It's a Wednesday night but the venue is rammed. I have only been to Heaven twice - the first time was 2009 when we saw Bad Lieutenant (Bernard Sumner's spin off band, following the initial dissolution of New Order, before they were resurrected 2 years later). The second time was 2016, when Saint Etienne played the whole of their debut album, Foxbase Alpha, my ticket courtesy of my lovely friend Liz (Liz J - we need to find another gig soon please!). Both were cracking gigs so Pip Blom will need to go some to top these shows

Support tonight comes from + Pregoblin and Vanity Fairy. The latter describes herself as "A failed actor, writer, administrator, waitress, seamstress, builder, and decorator, Vanity Fairy - having just signed with Moshi Moshi Records - now has her hopes pinned on international pop stardom". Pregoblin include ex-members of Fat White City, a band I could not stand. Sadly, Pregoblin do nothing tonight to make me re-evaluate that opinion.

Whereas Vanity Fairy is great fun - she's Roisin Murphy dressed as a crimson Zsa Zsa Gabor. Her voice is powerful, her stage presence dominates the small venue. She's playing to backing tapes but sounds huge. She comes out into the audience several times, forgetting the limitations of her new mic. But she is self-effacing and charming as she mocks herself for forgetting its limitations (her banter channels Su Pollard, who I always thought was hilarious).

She finishes with new single Top Of The Pops, which is a great slice of Erasure-esque disco pop. Not my usual cup of char, but she completely won me over. And her gay icon playing-cards, which she throws into the audience as she prowls through the crowd is a marvellous touch.

Pip Blom soon take the stage, with a setlist tonight that's heavy on the new album - all 12 tracks are played. I like this, it shows real confidence. I hadn't appreciated that their long-term drummer Gini Cameron has left to have a baby. So, tonight's show is driven by drum machines, programming and occasional percussion from the remaining trio.

Tonight, Tender Blom takes the guest male vocals alongside Pip. As Mrs JO'B says, the gig is a masterclass in synth-pop-indie. She's right. They have glided seamlessly from guitar power pop to pure pop.

On stage, they are never less than charming, plugging their merch stall by highlighting it's being run by Mummy and Daddy Blom - then realising Daddy is on the beers and down the front. Mummy really is running the stall and I buy two singles from her - she is all smiles, efficiency and maternal pride.

Stand out tracks are early singles School and Daddy Issues, but the best numbers are the new songs, especially Not Tonight - pulsating, energising pop music at its best. It's brilliant to see a band embrace change like this - what will they sound like for the next album?

Stay safe, and if you enjoyed this, please subscribe (see link below), x

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Ta mate would agree with all that having seen them in Brizzle last week x

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