In 2016, Norwich-based childhood friends Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth – AKA Let’s Eat Grandma – were so close that they often pretended they were twins. A lot has changed since the early days of this uncanny, left-field pop duo. Taking to the stage at a tightly packed XOYO, they have grown to be individuals, Walton in diamante-spangled blue velour, grinning, poised and assured around the stage; and Hollingworth in black, saturated with gold and silver sequins, initially a little more demure and reserved behind her synths.
Two Ribbons, their forthcoming third album, finds the pair largely writing individually, laying bare growing apart and learning new parts of themselves: notably for Hollingworth, processing the bereavement of her late boyfriend, musician Billy Clayton. Still, it’s not tension or grief that hangs in the air tonight – rather, it’s love.
On the euphoric opener Happy New Year, synths pummel the air, met with the pair’s heady vocal harmonies and a cascade of firework sounds. 2018’s Hot Pink, with all its singsong chanting and thrilling, Sophie-produced whirrs and squelches, remains a wonder. But it’s when Hollingworth steps into the centre of the stage and her voice fills the room on the powerful, sprightly pop of Watching You Go, an as-yet-unreleased track that tries to grapple with some of the emotion of her grief, you can hear just how much they have grown as people and artists. Her eyes are a little glassy, but when the song ends she seems looser, and the tenderness between her and Walton shines through.
None of this is to say they haven’t remained playful: spooky debut song Deep Six Textbook is still performed with handclapping routines, Walton on glockenspiel, and head movements akin to robots powering down. During proggy Falling Into Me there’s even a (quickly abandoned) attempt at the Macarena before Hollingworth runs off to do her sax solo. An abundant, glorious pop show with its heart on its sleeve, it ends on an exuberant encore of Donnie Darko. Rainbow lasers cut through the smoke machines while the pair cut loose: dance moves, a knowing flurry on the recorder from Hollingworth, arms slung around one another joyously; two sisters who have found each other again.