Editors - The Junction, Cambridge
The first sell out at the Junction in some time is no disappointment. The opportunity to see a band at the peak of it's live powers is an impressive site - controlling the crowd and setting a pace that can only leave you watching in awe.
Things started out a little slow though. First up were The Cinematics who were a little boring. They're the kind of band that is increasingly popular at the moment - skinny guys with long hair playing edgy guitar based music. It just feels as though they haven't found who they are yet - each song felt like a tribute song to some popular act. There was the Interpol song, the Police song and the Cure song. All a little underwhelming and disappointing.
This could not be said for the next support act, We Are Scientists. Creating some buzz over here at the moment (I can't seem to listen to the radio without hearing their latest single The Great Escape) they proved themselves worth of it. Creating more noise than the sum of their parts, this NYC based trio give us a 30 minute blast of indie rock. What makes these guys stand out from the rest of the crowd at the moment is the stark contrast between lead singer Keith Murray's gentle Conor Oberst style vocals and his harsh punk style guitar playing. They're also blessed with a progressive rhythm section that drives the songs along, creating quite a funky sound that the crowd find hard not to dance to. I'm certainly looking forward to having a listen to the new album in a couple of weeks.
So after these guys, Editors were going to have a lot to live up to - it's always dangerous having a support act with as much energy as those guys and anyone who's listened to the Editors (great) debut album may feel as though we're in for a dark and moody show. How wrong could I be! Lead singer Tom Smith (harking from the rock n roll centre of, erm, Stroud) controls and prowls the stage like a hyper-active Michael Stipe. He contorts his arms and body, not standing still for a second whilst he's not singing. During the wall of guitar that greats you for Bullets I'm afraid for my life as it looks like he'd going to throw both the guitar and himself into the crowd! Surely a song that mentions the word "disease" as many times as this should not be as uplifting?? He later apologises for having his fingers taped up - an accident on the bus before the show he ensures us... with the way he moved about this evening, there's no wonder that he's accident prone. They proceed to play most of the tracks from their album "The Back Room" and what strikes me most is how well Tom Smith can sing - the rich baritone sounds fantastic, the lyrics clear and striking. It doesn't matter than the other members of the band are anonymous on stage, it's Smith you can't take your eyes off. Another striking thing about this show is how the slower numbers come off sounding better live than the more up tempo songs. Camera sounds amazing, building to a crescendo of noise that makes your insides vibrate and the hairs at the back of your neck stand on end. This is the sound of a band at the peak of their live powers.
As we leave the gig, my friend makes an interesting point; if you hadn't heard the album and then bought it after seeing them live, you'd be disappointed. The anaemic, calculated and clean feel of the album which leads to the numerous (and in my mind, lazy) comparisons to Joy Division and Interpol are removed live - they have a depth, an emotional quality that connects with the listener and makes you feel as if you've witnessed something unique, a show that they've put on for you and not a date in an endless calender of shows. It's obvious that these guys have played live together for a while and know what they have to do. If you get a chance to see these guys, do it!
Pictures from www.valerioberdini.com