Stay + Live Review @ The Victoria (Dalston) (London) - 30 Jun 2011

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Live Review

Who are Stay+ ? Well, they were, until a couple of weeks ago, known as Christian AIDS until forced by the charity known as Christian Aid into a change of name. And they hail from Manchester. Much more than that you'll be hard pressed to find. Even as to who the collective is made up of is shrouded in mystery, although rumours of DJ Matt 'Kid' Farthing's (formerly of Run Toto Run, the Manc electro-pop trio) involvement appears to be the case. But even after their debut London appearance tonight, one is not much wiser.

But whether they are called Christian AIDS or Stay+ (or simply Stay, or even Stay Positive, which have also been variously used - nothing like a good puzzle), they also happen to be bloody good. And if you think that two blokes sampling techno drum beats for 45 minutes may border on the boring (unless on copious amounts of ecstasy), you would be very wrong.

Likened to Crystal Castles, their stage presence is no less than a sensory exploration of sound and visuals that incorporates film video images (such as their 'terrorist attack' take of the royal wedding that accompanies 'Young Luv') as a three screen backdrop to a 'motionless choir' troupe of four people who stand front of stage for the duration - each bearing black tees that spell out 'S-T-A-Y' - and a male and female vocalist providing alternate vocals. The latter excels on 'Fever'; her haunting tone on the repeated 'fever…fever' cutting right to the bones of you, before the song crashes into a electro jangle of clashing soundwaves. Mr Vocal, meanwhile, who has begun the night standing in the front row filming the crowd, then took to the stage at various points - including 'Young Luv' – to provide a deeper resonance; culminating with their 'Stay Positive' signature track, most of which is conducted whilst he mingles on the floor amidst the punters, urging them to 'follow your dreams'. The rapt applause at the end of this, the last of their set. Justified what had been a show of enigmatic, brooding class.

Stay+ are not so much a band, more a live performance art installation. This was not so much a mere gig, as an experience. And one not to be missed whenever they should head your way.

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