Live: DIIV @ Heaven in London.

DIIV at Heaven, London

DIIV live at Heaven in London. (Andy Sampson)

DIIV live at Heaven in London. (Andy Sampson)

“Thanks for writing our setlist tonight”.  Such is the introduction to DIIV’s final song tonight night from their enigmatic frontman Zachary Cole Smith, and having spent the second part of tonight’s set watching from the mixing desk, this complete lack of a setlist is a fact backed up by the engineers.  A slightly risky strategy given half of tonight’s songs are from their freshly released album Is the Is Are, but one that actually worked supremely well.  And it certainly went down well with the fans who got to request their favourite back catalogue songs, even if they didn’t always get played.

DIIV live at Heaven in London. (Andy Sampson)

DIIV live at Heaven in London. (Andy Sampson)

Given its been nearly 4 years since new material from the Brooklyn based band, its no surprise that tonight is a sell-out, and the room is packed out by loyal fans well before the support have finished.  As soon as they launch into the opening chords of Druun PtII from 2012’s Oshin theres a big party going on, and clearly the band relish the attention, even embracing the inflatable alien that gets thrown onstage during the second song, the title track from the new album.  From then on the set veers left and right between new and old tracks and is a either a glorious reliving of late 90’s shoegazing, or the second coming of a great new band, depending on your age.

DIIV live at Heaven in London. (Andy Sampson)

DIIV live at Heaven in London. (Andy Sampson)

Acoustically the one thing that’s noticeable is the less poppy soundscape to their live show, with much more emphasis on phased screeching guitars and a less structured feel (especially when they get the intro wrong, which they did on a couple of occasions).  It’s a sound that’s quite reminiscent of old school Cocteu Twins or The Cure, with the constantly changing and slightly out of focus backdrop adding to the zoned out feel.

DIIV live at Heaven in London. (Andy Sampson)

DIIV live at Heaven in London. (Andy Sampson)

Standout tracks from the new album such as Under the Sun and Mire really lend themselves to this live environment, and it’s the lighter songs such as Dopamine that don’t feel quite so at home for me.  And whilst Zachary is an admirable frontman, he doesn’t always need to command the limelight, with front of stage often being left free for the antics of guitarist Andrew Bailey who encourages the moshing, and gives a proper energy to the performance.

DIIV live at Heaven in London. (Andy Sampson)

DIIV live at Heaven in London. (Andy Sampson)

As the set progresses things become increasingly freeform with requests being taken from the floor for what to play next.  Top of the risky tracks list is Earthboy from Oshin, which Zachary admits to have only ever played live twice, and new track Waste of Breath who’s start is a little shaky, but which develops into a wonderful screeching guitar based track, only surpassed by the wonderful final track Doused.  For me, this sums up everything that’s good about DIIV.  Yes they’re not always flawless live, but the combination of unpredictability and the glorious soundscape they create is something that would see me going back to see them night after night.

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DIIV at Heaven, London on March 18th 2016. Photography & Live Review by Andy Sampson

Andy has his own personal website here with some more concert photography on show


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