Cable/Relay is conveniently close to London Bridge station, no more than a 5 minute walk along Tooley Street, turning right into Bermondsey Street – a great location for a club, actually in the railway arches… But I was surprised to be asked for ID on entry – were they expecting trouble or do I still look that young?!
The venue opens out to a reasonable-sized club which stretches back away and could hold a fair crowd. The sound system is pretty good – I had put my earplugs in even before the band came on and then noticed they helpfully supply earplugs on request. The crowd of mostly twenty and thirty somethings was mixed with a smattering of on-trend wannabes and a few tourists. Oh – and £4.30 for a small bottle of lager. The DJ set reminded me of the bars in and around Clerkenwell, all padded leather sofas, people watching and waiting to be seen, and the music is all a bit too laid back for midevening.
As for ULTRAISTA, a trio made up of vocalist Laura Bettinson and multi-instrumentalists/producers Nigel Godrich and Joey Waronker (Godrich having produced for Radiohead and Waronker having played with Beck and REM).
It is difficult to describe what they are like live without trying to draw comparisons. Vocally, I’m reminded a little bit of Saint Etienne, but as a whole Ultraista are a darker mélange of electropop keyboards, drums and layered foldback vocals.
Overall, the 45-minute set was sometimes brilliant and sometimes messy (that could down to the onstage sound), but the crowd enjoyed themselves and their appreciation showed. I’ve seen a dozen or so bands like this over the summer but Ultraista are definitely the strongest and most impressive one yet, and I’ve already added their recently released self-titled album to my Spotify playlist.