Live Review
She & Him
Koko, Camden

The ‘She’ is Hollywood, quirksome cutey Zooey Deschanel; the ‘Him’ ever-credible indie folk bloke M. Ward. This is their debut UK show; one of a few that acts as a warm-up to their Pavement-curated ATP appearance in eight days time. Add that it’s squeezed in before Koko turns into its weekly Kasabian-fest (Club NME) – and thus with a super early stage time of 8:30 – and it’s perhaps not surprising that a certain amount of nervy hurry and detachment from the all-shapes-and-sizes crowd is present. Ward bounds on stage while the slight Deschanel bounces to the mic like an excited child, grabs a tambourine and continues to jump up and down – the kind of adorable presence we were expecting from the star of 500 Days of Summer.

Her voice also matches expectations, as the accompanying band (that make it She & Him… & Him & Him & She & Him & She) begin with a slice of upbeat, 50’s doo-wop and it takes all of ten seconds to realise that Deschanel can sing astoundingly. When it comes to speaking though, she appears either grumpy, petrified or both, and so quickly aborts that for the next thirty five minutes, the band pausing for applause, a continual heckle of “I love you Zooey!” from a manic-sound girl, and little else. As they press on through more beach melodies, slow waltzes that could have featured in Grease (such as ‘Thieves’) and twee, tuneful indie, She & Him sound and look faultless, and yet the lack of interaction is akin to when you’re a waiter clears your plate as you’re still chewing – do they want out of here asap, is a recurring thought. Around the point that the duo are left alone for a poignant, acoustic rendition of ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’, they finally loosen up though, and become as coyly charming as the love songs they play. Nerves it was then.

By Sam Little


Originally published in issue 17 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. May 2010