Live Review: Editors @ Portsmouth Pyramid
When a band changes musical direction there’s always a risk. Recently Mumford and Son’s ditched the banjo’s and went all electric to generally positive reviews. On the flip side a past master of being a musical chameleon, David Bowie, got it spectacularly wrong with his nu-metal venture, Tin Machine. For Editors, with their new album In Dreams having a more synth based 80’s electronic feel to it, there is always going to be a question as to whether the style fits with the older indie-guitar based material.
It’s a question they decide to confront head on, opening with the moody and OMD-esque No Harm from the new album. Its all wonderfully choreographed stuff, with Tom Smith’s voice switching between baritone and falsetto, with a growing wall of sound as the other band members come on stage before a huge crescendo leads straight into Sugar from 2013’s Weight Of Your Love. At this stage things go slightly awry with the band needing to re-start the song about half way through, but there’s an enormous supportive roar from the crowd once it sets off again, and all is good for the remainder of the evening which comprises a wealthy mix from The Back Room all the way to the present day.
One thing that’s noticeable from get go is they’re a band of few words. The occasional “thank you very much” is pretty much all we got, but what this means is that the audience gets to decide whether the new songs mix or don’t. The good news is, they do perfectly.
Tracks like Life Is A Fear, Forgiveness and Our Love definitely echo early Depeche Mode, Joy Division and (believe it or not) Soft Cell, but don’t be alarmed; all have the broody melancholy mood that devoted fans have come to expect of the band with downbeat chord structures and guitar backlines.
Encouragingly they chose not to announce the new songs, or pigeonhole them into “mid-set” as some bands would do. Instead they were integrated throughout and gave a demonstration of a band who are both confident in their material, and who looking to stamp a more unique musical identity on themselves. And needless to say, the best of the old tracks still sound fresh and powerful; Formaldehyde, Bullets and Ton Of Love to note but three.
Perhaps the only track that didn’t work was All The Kings from the new album that was just a bit too poppy for my liking and which sounded like the love child of Snow Patrol mixed with Hue & Cry but it’s a minor transgression in an otherwise excellently balanced set. And to be honest, it was pretty soon forgotten when Tom picked up his guitar to do a solo acoustic version of Smokers Oustside The Hospital Door, which was a masterclass in how to strip back a huge guitar anthem into something pretty special and hugely emotional.
You may have worked out by now that I’m a bit of an Editors fan, and as I saw them in Portsmouth in 2007 at the height of their moodie-indie phase I’ll admit I was in the “Doubting Thomas’s” camp about the new material tonight. Thankfully I didn’t need to be. The Editors ship is very much on course. I even bought a t-shirt.
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Live Review and Photography by Andy Sampson
Editors at Portsmouth Pyramids Centre 15th October 2015.