“Literally swells with originality.”
Fluorescent pink light coats Omeara tonight. A new venue founded by Ben Lovett (member of Mumford & Sons), which looks like it should belong in a David Lynch film, minus the red curtains.
The emergence of this new venue carries symbolic resonance in the sense that it shouts: ‘London’s music scene is not dead’. And so appropriately Seramic – real name Marcus Foster – is headlining tonight. An elusive London native who’s creating music that’s exciting and yes, it isn’t landfill indie.
Seramic’s sound has a retro-soul quality that literally swells with originality. That may sound contradictory but you’ve got to hear it to believe it. His music marries post-modern sounding synths with the traditional funk bass line, enlivened by lyrics that are celebratory and sometimes personal. All of this makes you want to move your feet and head bop at the same time. Imagine the result if you blended the old school soul of Curtis Mayfield and Van Morrison with the more recent acts of Anderson. Paak and 2014 D’Angelo, and you’ll be pretty close to Seramic’s sound.
The tight line-up of two backing-singers (who nearly steal the show with their singing solos), a drummer and bassists (both keep the groove a-grooving) join Seramic on stage to a cheering London crowd. This surprised me. London crowds are notoriously hard to please, especially with new music. And here’s Seramic, who’s already being welcomed with open arms, with one person even shouting ‘I love you’. Though as the set progresses I begin to understand why there’s such admiration.
‘The Things You Do’ and ‘Waiting’ (both from the 2016 EP) are both steeped in texture and gradually builds with syncopated beats and intoxicating choruses. Even I, who only dances on rare occasions, was twirling and singing back “it’s you” during ‘The Things You Do’.
Seramic’s momentum continues with the most recent single, ‘I Got You’. It’s a nod to Aretha Franklin but with more of a heavy mash of guitars and gospel funk. It’s one of those songs that you think you know where it’s going then it suddenly takes an abrupt turn to somewhere else. This keeps the energy alive, and Foster’s charming stage presence helps too. He’s not smug. He’s not annoyingly nice either. He’s down to earth and very likable. At the beginning the set, he goofily addresses the audience with a ‘woo’ and later on, adds a witty remark: ‘we’re going to slow it down now otherwise I’m going to have a heart-attack’.
Even when the set is slowed down, there’s still a lot of soul present, mainly from Seramic’s voice. It’s an unapologetic voice that is passionate, fluctuating from a low growl to a spectral falsetto. He puts his all into every beat and lyric, causing drops of sweat appear on his brow. Words are howled, whooped and cried, while he either eccentrically plays the guitar or is hunched over the keyboard. His face screwed up with intense emotion. Unfortunately, this sometimes veers on the theatrical.
With a new EP on the horizon, some new songs are thrown into the mix, including my set highlight, the upbeat ‘Freaks on Parade’. This will fit right in on the festival circuit with its humble lyrics about someone with a ‘lazy eye’ paired with an exuberant chorus. “Freaks on Parade!” shrieks Seramic in a Prince-like manner, as the rest of band stamp left to right and the crowd sway. There are moments when the crowd seem to be less enthusiastic about participating, especially when they’re asked to sing back a few lines from other new songs, but only manage to begin awkwardly clapping. Nonetheless, crowd-participation will come with time.
The elegiac ‘Found’ closes the show. Suffused with drenching lights and the uplifting line “now that you found me, there’s nothing left to hide”, which is weaved with heavenly backing-vocals. Titling back his head, Seramic seems to go into another world and the crowd follow this time with dizzy smiles.
VERDICT: Seramic’s headline show left me with a spring in my step and funk on the brain. It wasn’t all smooth riding, but that’s live music for you. I wouldn’t change it.
Seramic will be supporting Bear’s Den on their European tour this March and April. Find more information on Seramic here: