The S.L.P. @ Rough Trade 17/9/19

Leicester boy Serge Pizzorno treated the rammed crowd in Nottingham’s Rough Trade to an insightful on stage in-conversation and select acoustic set showcasing his new S.L.P. solo material.

Entering Rough Trade, the room was brimming with fans, pints in hand, eagerly awaiting the Kasabian guitarist and lead songwriter to take to the stage. After nestling through the crowd, finding a spot to stand, one could feel the anticipation buzzing through the audience. Just to think that a man who (along with the rest of the band) has sold out arenas, headlined Glastonbury and won countless awards was about to perform for a handful of people in a crammed room in Nottingham was slightly overwhelming.

Kicking the night off with the in-conversation, Pizzorno entered to a warm welcome. Despite a few Kasabian questions, which felt unavoidable (no, this does not mean the end of Kasabian, and yes, they are already busy at work on the next album), the topic of conversation focussed around THE S.L.P. and how Serge went about creating his own solo music compared to working within a band. After the interviewer described the album as 'all over the place', referring to the vast jumble of genres and sounds explored within the record, Serge explained this due to the album being 'a window into his mind'. There was an innocence behind creating THE S.L.P. work, he explained, being inspired partly by his own children and how they shamelessly draw and colour with no logic or restrictions. His aim was to approach this new project with that same mentality; 'going into the studio with no fear'. The results speak for themselves; a record bubbling with a concoction of house influences, hip-hop and some 'particularly dirty guitar'.

Conversation swayed to the response which THE S.L.P. has received both critically and from fans. 'You have to be selfish when making art', Serge explained, believing that art is made for oneself over anything or anyone else. He described approaching his work with the aim of purely creating music which he would like to listen to above anything else, and openly described the 'urge' in the morning to make something, for fear that otherwise the day will be wasted. Obviously critical acclaim is great, and positive feedback from fans even better, but Serge made it clear that for him music is healing for the soul, and is first and foremost made for the artist themselves.

"To think that a man who has sold out arenas, headlined Glastonbury and won countless awards was about to perform for a handful of people in a crammed room in Nottingham was slightly overwhelming."

Nonetheless, THE S.L.P. has received critical acclaim across the board, with also a strong reaction from fans. This was evidenced by the mass turn out for the sell-out event, Serge himself exclaiming that he was 'overwhelmed' at the response. One could feel the respect and admiration in the room, as the crowd hung on his every word throughout both the in-conversation segment and the acoustic set.

Unfortunately, there was only time for a short but sweet set, exhibiting Serge’s recently released material. Opening with the slow and ambient Lockdown was the perfect way to kick off; accompanied by only an acoustic guitar and keyboard, Serge’s vocals were truly given the space to thrive. In some places, THE S.L.P. album is heavily produced, so the main takeaway from the night's live music was being able to really hear and appreciate Serge’s raw vocals for how strong, powerful and unwavering they truly are.

Following on was a tight and performance of Nobody Else, in which Serge quite literally broke the barrier between stage and audience; walking down into crowd itself and strutting through the sea of people. It was frankly a surreal moment; being shoulder-to-shoulder with one of the UK’s biggest names in music, singing his lyrics back to him.

"The main takeaway from the night's live music was being able to really hear and appreciate Serge’s raw vocals."

Meanwhile … In the Silent Nowhere took the pace back down, seeing Serge picking up his guitar and treating the crowd to a stripped-back rendition of the record’s closing track. Gone were the crazy electric keyboard and expansive sound found on the studio recording, to be replaced with Serge’s vocals taking forefront. Closing with what is rapidly becoming a fan favourite judging from the audience's reactions, ((trance)) rounded the night off. Impressively but not surprisingly, Serge was already hearing his lyrics sung back to him, these new set of songs and musical direction already resonating with listeners.

Image courtesy of Rough Trade

It was a shame to only be treated to a handful of songs, and despite the acoustic set up allowing for Pizzorno's vocals to shine, it was perhaps restricting in other areas. Serge did state that he would be open to taking THE S.L.P. solo project onto other bigger venues since these handful of gigs have gone down so swimmingly. The record would lend itself easily to flashing lights, huge dancing crowds and a vaster scale all round, and there’s no doubt in my mind that this will one day become a reality.

Describing THE S.L.P. as 'a planet that now exists' meaning that he can 'get on a spaceship and visit it every now and then' summarises Serge’s solo work perfectly. It exists off on it’s own, literally in its own world, something that on paper should never work but somehow does. Listening to it, visiting it, is a deep dive into the head of Serge Pizzorno: an amalgamation of conflicting genres, bizarre stories and fearless music.