Spector - Concorde 2, Brighton 25/10/12
I'll be honest; I have aching reservations about Spector's debut album. It's admittedly grand in scale, with little time for breath amongst its rushing anthemic highs and overtly sentimental, tear-jerking super-ballad lows, but my mind remained entirely unblown. Sure, I had pangs of nostalgia, as memories of The Killers and other fat-anthem power indie grandpas flooded back, and yes, the lyrics, seemingly shed like tears from the puppy-dog eyes of indie pin-up Fred Macpherson, hold a peculiar charm, empowered by swirling synths, over-driven guitars and heartbeat drums, but I felt dangerously unattached - I wasn't immersed. Instead I sat drinking tea on the party peripheral, wishing my heart would beat just a little faster.
But that's all well and good, I could moan and ponder about the album through the gaze of the written word for yonks and soon become bored of the sound of my own keyboard (I'd love to say pen, but sadly I'm half computer nowadays) but that's not the point of this particular ramble. The live show, that's the picture that needs painting and boy, is it vivid.
It's a sad fact that a vast majority of support acts go virtually unwatched nowadays, with most crowds seemingly reluctant to arrive pre-watershed. I've a hunch the One show is to blame, with most unable to leave the house before a healthy dose of the days topical telling's, but it's a theory currently lacking substantiation. However, tonight, Concorde 2 is one packed hive, rammed with a hoard of bees, all buzzing from the off. It helps that, if we consider the evening as a three-course meal, with desert eaten unconventionally ahead of the main, tonight's menu is wonderfully tasty. Both support acts, Swim Deep and Splashh, are currently tantalising the tip of the hype tongue, and from the swirling mass of adoring faces, it's evident the size of the crowd is an ode to their popularity.
Swim Deeps playful power-pop is joyous, each member a peculiar slice of a wild and puzzling pie; from frontman Austin's sentimental, lolloping tones; to bassist Cavan's broom-handle body and fuzzy bass, to drummer Zach's mechanically sharp stickery and finally, to guitarist Higgy's absorbed twiddling, as he remains hidden in a den of Cobain-esque locks, transfixed by his own toes. Ladies and gentlemen, Swim Deep make you feel good. That might sound sickly twee and empty of any critical oomph but this is music to make the mind wonder, the limbs slacken and the eyes glaze. It has no heavy, deep intent, but simply illuminates the stodgy club darkness with unadulterated, music-made rays of pastiche pop and boisterous, sunny beams of feel good fuzz.
Next come Splashh. Their slacker-tight, Americanised grunge-punk grooves wooing the ears into a state of adoration. They deviate from Swim Deep's dream-state, journeying into a far crunchier, infinitely more menacing realm, with synth like vocals, made multidimensional by harmony, chiming pure and purposeful, despite their hazy effects and fuzz-laden backdrop. 'Vacation', the soon-to-be-realised single, is the proverbial cherry on the cake, and with a mess of metaphorical icing littered around their mouths (icing with a vaguely familiar pixies/Dinosaur jr/yuck tang) the crowd is left wholly satisfied, drunk and reeling on heavy, woozy, no-care tones.
Then my butterflies begin, as a pang of worry for the main spectorcle (ouch, pun) settles in, but after seconds of it all beginning, I'm at complete ease. As a bold set of suits filter on stage, staggered to the climax of Fred Macpherson's soul entrance, I'm made perfectly aware that Spector are not a sit-down and sip band. Marmite Macpherson holds a super wit, his ironic, mildly self-depreciating humour inciting genuine belly laughs from a beguiled audience. Every element is tightly fused, cemented by intense, poignant vocals laced with catchy licks and delivered with a drive that rivals the engine of their dearest Chevy. Vocal sentiments that, on record, make for mildly queasy listening, adopt an almost satirical, empathetic charm. Guitar solos, previously lost when absorbed in a still living room, become meaty and mesmerising when twiddled live, on an upright, gleaming Les Paul, by a man in a lemon bomber with a big wave quiff. Spector, who before now appeared to be an oddly self-conscious, over-dramatized tribute to the wonder years of 2004, became a band rich in a genuine love for good times and raucous crowd participation.
By mid set, if you're not chanting 'Chevy Thunder' as though possessed by some anthemic poltergeist you're probably not human, and should move to a totalitarian commune where they worship stones and Stalin. Bopping along may have a pang of stupid but it feels right. For a moment, we're all immune to humiliation, driven wildly on by rolling drums and an infectious sense of revelry. I'm not going to pretend I enjoyed the album immensely, but that's irrelevant, because live, Spector were terrific. The comb wielding Fred Macpherson, with his slick doo and ironic quips, fronts a band of excellent live proportions and one entirely worth a punt.
As though named to be quoted, the 'Enjoy it while it lasts' tour is one bandwagon that should be firmly mounted and lovingly embraced, and who knows, maybe you'll enjoy it enough to buy the album, spending the proceeding week rocking out unashamedly in the comfort of your home, engaging in call and response with your cat and wishing you had a blithe, loveable, Macpherson-esque arrogance to carry you briskly through life.
Purchase and listen
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"They play an eleven song set comprised almost equally of old and new material, and seem excited to finally showcase songs from the long-awaited debut. Whilst the set highlights are undoubtedly Honey and King City, the new tracks hold their place among the singles, and some have the potential to be even bigger than their releases so far." [read more]
'Pheonix Nights' was the first thought that sprung to mind upon entering the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. An ancient and broken light-up heart adorned the stage, someone hacked away at a wall cable with a knife and there was garlic bread on the bar (OK, maybe the last one isn’t true, but it’s still a pretty outdated yet intriguing place). [read more]