Thursday, 26 November 2009

733 EDITORS, Ra Ra Riot, THE KISSAWAY TRAIL, Bristol Academy, Monday 15 October 2007

The end of the longest gig hiatus since my illness had a false start, as Rachel and I had actually driven down to the Louisiana last week to see The Kissaway Trail, only to discover on arrival that they'd postponed that date to join Editors on tour! So I was happy but Rach wasn't, as she'd previously passed this gig up, a decision she regretted doubly now! So the Kissaway Trail's presence on this bill gave me impetus to get there early doors, however a malfunctioning air pressure pump at the garage and a car-park mare on arrival meant that, despite my 6.30 set-off time, my gig buddy Ian and I arrived at 10 to 8, midway through the K-T's third number (and my favourite), "Smother+Evil=Hurt"! D'oh!

So we took a spot centre stage for the rest of their rather splendid set - contemporaries of Mew, this Danish 5-piece share Mew's grasp of shimmering, plangent melody and ephemera, but mix in more than a modicum of Mercury Rev's sense of awe, and the general sweeping euphoria of the Polyphonic Spree (very evident in new single "The La La Song", rendered wonderfully tonight). Closer "Soul Assassins" showed a bent towards stunning wall-of-noise dramatics, and made me feel pig-sick their rearranged Louisiana date clashes with the National's Anson Rooms show. Have to do something about that, methinks... However, main tour support Ra Ra Riot, a Syracuse, NY 6-piece, merged ska, 80's style synth retro and headband glam pop into, quite frankly, a tuneless mess. Damn shame they, and not the infinitely superior Kissaway Trail, were main support...

The place filled up quickly but we kept our centre stage spot for the entrance of Editors at 9.30 prompt. Media darlings from the outset of their brief career to date, Ipswich's Editors started off very much on the coat-tails of NYC's Interpol, their debut "The Back Room" featuring many of Interpol's dark, claustrophobic soundscapes and clipped guitar riffs. And yes, an obvious nod towards Joy Division... However, with excellent new album "An End Has A Start", Editors have arguably supplanted their alleged progenitors as the primary purveyors of driving, dark rock'n'roll with a distinct 80's rockist bent, taking their Interpolesque debut sound and suffusing it with shiny shimmery guitar, reminiscent of House Of Love or even Kitchens Of Distinction!

An alluring blend, and evident tonight that they know how to tread the boards in style. The opening salvo of new album title track and "Bones" were fast-paced, itchy, insistent and resonant, with the sound mixed perfectly to feature vocalist Tom Smith's delicious, deep and rich baritone, so reminiscent of Ian Curtis... This was unfortunately at the expense of some guitar, particularly early doors, which was a little frustrating. However, Smith's performance more than made up for that; a dominant, angular presence throughout, alternating between energetic leaps a la American Hi-Fi's Stacy Jones (!) and piano parts, particularly on the stunning "Weight Of The World", the best song of the set, Smith was rakishly eye-catching. Polite too, with almost perfect enunciation, rare in a rock'n'roll singer! "Racing Rats" was also a set highlight, as was closer and fan favourite "Munich", but the best was saved for the encore; their best number, "Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors" was awesome; shimmering, plangent and magnificent. Misery has rarely sounded so euphoric.

A great show - not stratospherically so as they could have been, but great nonetheless - capped by a quick meet with some of the Kissaway Trail boys afterwards. A superb double-header to resume my gigging ways from 2 bands that there's a lot more to come from!

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