A man called Wallace has tweeted in saying how incredible this live session is, and Ian from upstairs asks the Radio 1 settlement in Exeter Phoenix to turn he volume up, he can’t hear it. A girl in front of me with silver glitter on her cheeks tells her friend before the show that her feet hurt and she wishes she wasn’t sitting behind the camera. After a while, though, she has no problem immersing herself, and neither does anyone else; AlunaGeorge slot into place on stage for the live studio audience as if it were a regular gig. The only irregularity perhaps is the crowd’s initial reservation from not knowing the etiquette of being seated; it feels somewhat discourteous and insincere to cheer too loudly, and tough to get hooked on when you’re actively waiting for the final whisper of song as to not clap too soon.
Perhaps best known for their collaboration on Disclosure’s ‘White Noise,’ AlunaGeorge is London-based electronica duo Aluna Francis and George Reid, although Reid seems to have disappeared for the purpose of this afternoon. As they begin their two-song set, it is apparent that the crowd aren’t the only ones excited to be there. A great smile spreads across the stage as Aluna says how great it is to be in Exeter and to be performing in the Live Lounge. Tinie Tempah seems happy too; as a guest host on today’s show, while he might be donning a camouflage jacket and sunglasses in an already dark Phoenix auditorium, the coolest of personas still can’t hide his eagerness.
Aluna’s vocals really – and i mean really – have something about them
Childlike, empathetic vocals surround the Phoenix for the title track of AlunaGeorge’s album to-be, scheduled for released in September, ‘I Remember.’ Produced by Flume, the performance is a dual reminder, not only that Aluna’s vocals really – and I mean really – have something about them, but that Flume is a must-watch at Radio 1’s Big Weekend. At times, the drum kit becomes overpowering to a live audience, drowning Aluna’s incredibly rich voice, but hopefully the final mix will be incredible. It’s interesting to see how organic the setup remains in spite of its global acclaim. Aluna’s voice is indulgent, at times calling on falsettos that didn’t have to be there but demand attention. Her minimal lyrics work inordinately well alongside Flume’s intricate production, and all initial questions of audience decorum are easily forgotten.
The piece de resistance comes after a short break: the infamous Live Lounge cover. They’ve gone for Justin Bieber’s ‘Company,’ and manage to turn one of the more downbeat and unremarkable moments of Purpose into a heartfelt electronic ballad. Aluna’s soft vocal stamp proclaims the song as her own. Previously she recalls her one meeting with Bieber, where she fell victim to the “hug and sweep” mantra that comes with that much fame. Her two seconds with Bieber came and went with “it’s so great to meet you,” before she was moved away for him to hug and sweep the next in line. She describes it not maliciously, but with a fond glaze in her eyes that still seems to appear on most people when talking about the Canadian heartthrob.
While AlunaGeorge only had seconds with Bieber, we were treated to 20 minutes with AlunaGeorge, filled with anecdotes, great music and Twitter interactions that varied little between “slay” and “yaaaaaaas.” The audience’s confusion shows Radio 1’s marque of intimate live music with some of the most exciting names in the industry to still be foreign to Exeter, but it’s something I’m sure we could all get used to.