Sunday, 6 February 2011

771, EDITORS, Wintersleep, Bristol Colston Hall, Monday 19 October 2009

A fitting start to gig book 11, with Editors, possibly the best British band around right now, playing at the Colston Hall. Rach didn't want to compromise next week's Green Day gig and surprisingly I couldn't find anyone else to go with, so tix for 1 duly sorted before they sold out, I headed off down a crisp M4 after the kids' bathtime, parking up in Trenchard at 1/4 to 8.

The first thing to note was the new Colston Hall entrance hall - it's accessible from the back, directly opposite the car park, and it leads into a posh new open rear atrium. They've whipped this up quickly as it was only 6 months since I was last here! Took a minute to get my bearings before popping in to check out Wintersleep, a US band which after an uneven start showed nice alt-country licks a la Band Of Horses, together with some discordant noise and reasonable tunes to boot. One to look out for perhaps?

Got a diet coke in the posh new bar and ran into Stefan Milsom, an old U-18 Brunel face. Had a nice chat and compared gig experiences.

Back in the hall at 10 to 9 and took a good viewing spot stage right for Editors' prompt entrance at 9. Lights out and straight on, no messing, and directly into the pulsing synth of their new CD title track, "In This Light And On This Evening". Yes, pulsing synth - Editors, one of the most promising British guitar bands for years, have made a seriously bold move with this new album, taking their trademark yet developing early 80's post-punk doomy guitar rock sonic template and suffusing it with challenging and robotic sheet metal synth. This could easily be disastrous, suffocating their material, but instead it augments it, giving it an extra dimension, particularly live, as the haunting, jagged opener attested to.

Thereafter, we were treated to a perfect, superbly paced and thoroughly professional performance from a band on top form and quickly rising to the top. Rakishly thin, angular vocalist Tom Smith is an attention grabbing frontman, both for his deep, rich baritone which gives his sometime preposterous lyrics the air of proclamations from on high, and for his urgent, twitchy staccato moves, profiled perfectly by the backlit bank of lights. The set alternated between the embryonic Joy Divisionesque material on their debut, with a breathless "Blood" an early highlight; the matured, textured sound of their superb follow up "An End Has A Start", with the title track and a strident "Racing Rats" keeping the momentum; and the new material, slower, challenging, occasionally jarring but intriguingly so, particularly "Eat Raw Meat" which could be an outtake from Simple Minds' similarly jagged synth-laden 1981 album "Empires And Dance".

I shook a leg as best I could in this sold out but oddly static crowd, which only really got going for an immense "Smokers", the surging, cacophonous crescendo to their finest moment filling this venerable old hall, then the crowd fell silent again for a splendid yet unappreciated set closer "Bricks And Mortar". Nevertheless, we got encores, including an urgent "Munich" which got me piling down the front to dance, and new single "Papillon", swathed in a robotic synth riff oddly likening it to the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams", yet excellently haunting and savagely catchy all the same, climaxing a perfectly delivered 1 1/2 hour performance.

Out and home smoothly as well, after a top gig from a band taking bold moves yet still fulfilling their promise as a future stadium band. I'm sure of that - world domination awaits Editors!

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