“Hey Hackney, it’s a pleasure to be here. We used to busk around here and look at the amazing venue we are playing now”.
Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan are a portrait of cheerfulness, right halfway their set in front of the crowd at Oslo. Hackney was one their favourite spots when Ten Fé – even before they actually became Ten Fé – were busking around London.
Guitars, simple riffs, indie pop at its finest, all blent with that sense of happiness that corroborates the message they want to bring to us. Ten Fé means “have faith” in Spanish. And it’s quite clear that Ben and Leo simply want us to be smiley and take life in a better way, especially in these hard and uncertain times.
I had the feeling it would have been a blast of a night even before stepping into one of my favourite venues in London. Oslo is an iconic, old-fashioned building, formerly Hackney Central railway station’s ticket office. It’s still half empty when I get in. I see on stage the first opening act of the night, Baywaves, a four-piece of dream-pop-shoegazers from Madrid (although they started as a duo in the North of Spain). Well, let me tell you something: you should check out their fizzy sound and what I would describe as a re-definition of dream pop.
JW Ridley follows-up, and Oslo is finally getting cozier. I don’t know anything about him or his music and that’s the best part of the game. He plays his guitar in a way that reminds me of something like The Cure. His presence on stage draws vague comparisons with Ian Curtis, and the minute I think about it, I can hear a couple of girls whispering the same thing, right beside me while checking out Jack Ridley on the internet. His set is a showcase of what has to be his yet unreleased production, including the stunning single ‘Everything (Deathless)’ (the only number available on Spotify and other streaming services). Compelling.
When Ten Fé take the scene, Oslo is a humid bubble, fuelled by booze and laughter. The London-based duo starts their set with their hypnotic ‘Overflow’ and the journey goes through the best bits of their debut ‘Hit The Light’, recently released via Some Kinda Love. The band plays in a relaxed way, smiling at the crowd, lining up the first five tracks of their record in a perfect order. ‘Another Way’ – right in the middle of the setlist – reaches the climax, with its velvety melodies and delicate drum patterns that spread a sense of peace all around.
Oslo’s crowd is shaken by little waves of pleasure, during the final ‘Make Me Better’, ‘In The Air’ and ‘Burst’. There’s time for an encore, too, and that’s where the sweetest surprise of the night is hidden. A soulful version of Underworld’s ‘Born Slippy’ grows slowly. Ben and Leo alternate at the mic and a soundscape of distorted guitars in delay and synths fill the atmosphere. By far, it’s one of the best covers I’ve heard in a while for this timeless track.
The last line “And now are you on your way to a new tension and headache?” vibrates in the air. It’s the happy end of a night I will remember. Ten Fé leave with an even bigger smile on their faces and I can see there’s something special there.
Let’s have faith, then, it’s worth it.