Efterklang + Esben & the Witch - Shepherds Bush Empire, London
Taking to the stage in a green/yellow haze of dark and light, Esben and the Witch deafen the crowd with a battery of electronic beats, and banshee wailing from vocalist Rachel. Coming across like The XX, except much denser and noisier, the band stay stationary for much of the set while Rachel intermittently, yet somewhat shyly introduces each song. Their tremolo laden guitar, crashing cymbals and hard-hitting electronic beats create a rather more doomy contrast to the headline act.
Efterklang have grown steadily since their emergence in the early noughties, but with 2008's Parades the band really struck a chord. Here in support of the bands new album Magic Chairs, they have finally made the jump to a larger label (4AD), and larger venues. Taking to the stage tonight as a seven-piece, the band give latest single 'I Was Playing Drums' an early airing, and it's immediately apparent that the newer tracks make much more sense live. Their sound is clear as day, every instrument emerging through the speakers and never imposing on each other. One of the most shining tracks from Parades, 'Mirador', is played and its glitchy yet twinkling opening, and sweetly hushed vocals have the entire audience enraptured.
However, the majority of tonight's set comes from their latest release. Songs such as 'Raincoats' and 'Modern Drift', are played with such a contagious joy and happiness that the crowd can't help but be picked up and carried along by their sweet music. The beauty is in the detail tonight too, with Heather Woods Broderick providing some lovely flourishes of flute, while an additional brass duo join the collective for much of the set adding even more depth to songs that are already lovingly layered. Exiting the stage with the biggest grins on their faces, Efterklang are a band that truly love what they do. And we love them just as much for being here.