Live: One, Two, Three and We're Under. Broken Bells, Royal Festival Hall.

As a watercolour sunset disperses over London's South Bank, the pattering of commuter soles turns to beer bottle clinks of the post-daily grind on the patios in the shadows of the infamous concrete shell of the Royal Festival Hall as this year's Meltdown Festival, curated by Fairport Convention founder Richard Thompson comes to a rather spectacular, if subdued denouement. Tonight it's the turn of Broken Bells, supergroup of sorts who if recent media speculation's anything to go by, may not be releasing further material imminently under any other such moniker. Composed of artful copyright dodger Danger Mouse, or Brian Burton as he's renowned amidst the cinematic swirls of current project and The Shins' daydream lyricist James Mercer, the pairing may not imminently come across as a bread and butter combo yet this year's self-titled debut long player pricked ears and swayed naysayers with its unique blend of retro Hammond whirs, Morricone brass and Mercer's irrevocably unequivocal voice box. Conversely to its Lego block skyline sterility and accompanied freedom drinks that spill and splash just metres outside, within the Royal Festival Hall a growing impatience wafts among the venue's lavish art deco stalls and balconies, combined with a genuine element of intrigue, what with tonight marking the duo's first major UK show before nipping down to Somerset this weekend to melt a few hearts on Glastonbury's picturesque Park Stage.

Taking to the stage tentatively a fair old while before nine, a blazing sun projected behind Mercer and Burton, accompanied by an assortment of over-excitable backup guitar slingers and multi-instrumentalists, appears to bake Mercer's gleaming forehead as if he's spent a weekend on Barcelona beaches whilst cooking oil sizzles above his hair line. The seven members that tonight form Broken Bells emerge unwittingly from the wings, shuffling before and behind the dim spotlights that cascade down ethereally from above to a wispy clarinet-led intro, before Burton sits himself down centre stage behind his Hammond and a 60s jam emanates from along their guitar-driven frontline. Burton chops and changes instruments faster than Flying Lotus triggers genre swivels, disappearing behind Mercer to mechanically bash a drum kit to the haunting anthemia of October, before the reverb-soaked Hagström rattles lure in Your Head Is On Fire. Where the pair's LP can oft wander into the background, tonight the psychedelic orchestration that laces it creeps quite unknowingly to the forefront of most cerebral matter, accompanied by a ceaseless stream of visuals taking in darting stars, declining thermometer readings and that pink blob that adorns the album artwork in a variety of bobbing formats. The sleek chic of The Ghost Inside, with its wailing falsetto and following dust-splattered bridge oozes a grandeur and soulful pop sensibility thus far absent from The Shins' modest back catalogue, a souped-up take on Tommy James and the Shondells' Crimson & Clover ups blood temperatures and The Cure-esque basslines that coarse through Mongrel Heart, backed by Beach Boys harmonies, are as powerful as Magnetic Man jump-started by a Jeep. Just as the record lulls midway with Sailing To Nowhere, Trap Doors and Citizen drifting along in a bleary haze of emotive schism, so too tonight do they flail limply amidst the technicolour wash sensually constructed, yet the futuristic take on Spaghetti Western soundtrack, Vaporize wipes almost any ascertainable memory of said abeyance, evaporating wandering thoughts leaving a cooling condensation of concentration in its dripping wake. Dark Night Of The Soul looks set finally to get the release it so thoroughly merits, not solely down to the majestic works it contains but also in homage to the late Mark Linkous. With Danger Mouse having been quite so instrumental in the collaboration, the pair's piece Insane Lullaby, recorded with Linkous before his untimely passing, provides a beautifully apt moment of jaw-dropping melancholy reminiscent of The Flaming Lips' most tender minutes and a fair show of tears are wrenched from their ducts within the stereotypically muted and perhaps slightly unappreciative audience congregated before them this evening. Before there's time to collect thoughts, the band reemerge for an animated interpretation on Smokey Robinson & The Miracles' You Really Got A Hold On Me, once again portraying the soul tinges that line the meticulously tailored edges of Broken Bells. There's just time for a rousing rendition of the record's psych rawk closer, The Mall & Misery as Hard Rock Café glam guitar chinks reverberate effervescently off the Festival Hall's angular dispositions and before the bars are even emptied, the 'Bells chime out quite triumphantly. A hugely resounding impact from such apparently subdued nonchalance, that Glastonbury 'To See' list just got one line longer.

Broken Bells played:

Your Head Is On Fire
The Ghost Inside
Sailing To Nowhere
Crimson & Clover
Trap Doors
The High Road
Insane Lullaby

You Really Got A Hold On Me
Mongrel Heart
The Mall & Misery