Photos by Chris Mathews

The Rapture have been away for five years. It's fair to say that in that time the musical landscape has completely changed. If a music writer were to use the term ‘nu rave’ now they would be punished by having to listen to CSS’ second album on repeat for a week.

Yet it’s the very fact that The Rapture’s new album In The Grace of Your Love pays no attention to new styles that makes it such a triumph – it plays on what the band do best, if anything it’s more hedonistic than their first two albums. After inter-band problems and the departure of Mattie Safer the band – especially Luke Jenner – seem a band reinvigorated. It means this show at XOYO boasts masses of good vibes.

Support Beaty Heart are a band who have listened to a lot of Animal Collective records and raided a Viking chariot boot sale for their look. Theirs is a percussion heavy, hypnotic and rhythmical sound and although the volume is too high the echoing hypnotic sounds gradually become intoxicating, floating over the crowd – which may explain why, sadly, many don’t pay attention.

There’s no missing The Rapture though. Their entrance is modest. They stroll on to the stage with hands meekly raised in welcome. Yet it doesn’t take long for the gig to explode.  Jenner crowd surfs, walks through to the back of the venue to hug the sound guy mid-song and stays behind after the gig to high five the audience. He certainly knows how to get a crowd on his side. Halfway through the gig he gazes out at the crowd and says “My mum was from Bristol and she always told me British people were lovely. Until about five minutes ago I wasn’t sure, but you guys are amazing.”

It’s not like the crowd needed much persuading – from the first synths of In The Grace of Your Love they were pogoing as a sweaty mass. Despite its lukewarm critical response all the new songs from the new record sound great: Come Back To Me’s Gallic flourishes are great and ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ - introduced as ‘the best song ever created by humans’ – perfectly distils the disco elegance that dominates the new album.

The band don’t just focus on the new album though – there’s plenty of cowbell and saxophone to go around. They play ‘Echoes’ and it’s as raucous as ever, with Jenner’s metallic, scratchy guitar and what I’ve always taken as him screaming ‘Baked potato’ over and over again. ‘Whoo! Alright – Yeah… Uh Huh’ and ‘Get Myself Into It’ are also greeted like old friends. They even have the confidence to play ‘House Of Jealous Lovers’ half way through the set.

They end with new album standout ‘It Takes Time To Be A Man’, the soulful keyboard underpinning Jenner as crooner. It’s a role his voice suits perfectly and points to a new direction for the band.

As the sax outro fades away, Jenner stays by the stage to high five the crowd as they leave you’re just glad they’re playing Koko in a couple of months and you don’t have to wait 5 years to see them again.

Beaty Heart