G I G R E V I E W
The Chills at Altitude, 14 September 2018
It’s been a long time since The Chills last played in Hamilton—possibly greater than 20 years—so it was fantastic that they finally decided to drop by again.
The band played an excellent mix of songs over the night, constantly moving from old to new and back again. The Night of Chill Blue was a beautiful start to the night, off their 1987 debut album, followed by the two openers off the new album, Bad Sugar and Time to Atone. Then it was back to some classics, Wet Blanket and Male Monster from the Id, followed by another new song. And so the intermingling continued. It was clear from the voracity of the dancing along the front row the songs the audience were most familiar with, though it was unsurprising that most were unfamiliar with the newest songs; this show coincided with the release day of the new album, Snow Bound. Amongst everything else, we were treated to Pink Frost, and a sequence of Come Home, new single Complex and an excellent rendition of Heavenly Pop Hit to finish out the set. An encore, politely demanded, comprised of Doledrums, the 2017 single Rocket Science, and an excellent performance of the timeless I Love my Leather Jacket. A well thought out set, featuring some outstanding songs, that few could have gone away disappointed with. [continued below]
The band were also great to watch. Besides the main focal point, Martin Phillipps, drummer Todd Knudson was highly entertaining, his left arm seemingly defying all gravitational principles, constantly flying up into the air and having to be forcibly brought back down onto the drums. Erica Scally constantly demonstrated her versatility as a multi-instrumentalist, swapping between keyboards, guitar and skeletal violin. Meanwhile, bass player James Dickson looked equal parts like the long-lost brother of Martin Freeman, and that he was fresh from flying in on his Sopwith Camel following a dogfight with the Fritz. Or was that just me that was seeing that?
The down points? I hadn’t been to the cavernous and echoey Altitude since MSU released their ‘Best and Worst of Mobile Stud Unit’ about 10 years ago. While the venue name ‘Altitude’ is appropriate for a band called ‘The Chills’, on a tour called ‘Snow Bound’, the sound quality became especially problematic during the quieter songs, like Chill Blue and Submarine Bells, and did no favours to support act Reb Fountain. Thankfully, the bigger, iconic, pop songs like Leather Jacket and Heavenly Pop Hit were less affected. Another down-point was a lack of local support. The Scones, in particular, with their Flying Nun aesthetic, would have made for a perfect support act for The Chills, and in front of these punters would have gained some valuable new fans. Overall, however, you can’t fault The Chills for their part in the night. Come back; we need more of your kind.