Chelou, King’s Head members’ club, review: ‘Nonchalant air is immediately disarming’

Chelou at The King's Head members' club, Hackney. Picture: Lucy Mansfield

Chelou at The King's Head members' club, Hackney. Picture: Lucy Mansfield - Credit: Archant

Unsigned singer Chelou from Camden Town entrances his Hackney audience with Jeff Buckley-esque vocals and mesmerising melodies

Chelou graced our presence last night with an enchanting performance in the underground chambre of the King’s Head members’ club in Hackney.

Chelou (French slang for louche or shady) has garnered a large following in the past two years with pretty much every indie blog in the country talking about him.

He has clocked up more than 4.5 million streams across a multitude of platforms and had exciting coverage ranging from The Wall Street Journal to Clash Magazine. This is no mean feat especially considering the artist is still unsigned.

He takes to the stage and immediately defuses the tension by suggesting the rigid East London hipsters can have a dance if they like. A born and bred Camden Towner, his nonchalant air is immediately disarming.

He begins to serenade an intimate room full of impassioned fans, luring us in with his dreamy vocals and soft acoustics. The guitarist invites us into his world with mesmerising melodies reverberating throughout the room.

It feels like he is confiding in us, whispering us a secret only for our ears. The Jeff Buckley-esque vocals rouse powerful feelings of longing and loss and he falls into a trance like state losing his beanie hat to reveal a messy crop of blonde surfer locks.

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With honest lyrics such as “I tried to be different but turned out just like the rest”, he leaves every member of the audience intrigued by his life, while addressing current, nihilistic ideologies with his controversial lyrics, “I don’t believe in anything”.

Accompanied only by his multi-instrumentalist drummer, we’re focused and undistracted, allowing a true connection to the music. Chelou’s accomplice is reliable, tight and unfazed. Together they awaken nostalgic emotions where we’re taken back to a past, idyllic summer when life was simpler. Feelings of sorrow and loneliness rush over me as he croons “I woke to find myself alone”.

Then the performance takes an interesting turn with the groovy, rhythmic beats of “Don’t hate on me”. With many of his tracks a unique blend of acoustic and electronic, it adds a serious hippy-trippy-dance factor.

He sings of the “powers of seduction” but it is us who are truly seduced by the alluring melodies. Overall this is a simple yet evocative performance, and the intimate setting fully enhances the experience.

We will desperately await the mysterious Chelou’s next appearance. All we know is that he is leaving us for SXSW in Austin, Texas in March next year.