Review – The Horrors – ABC Glasgow, 15/5/12

Glasgow has the reputation of being a city where men are men – tattoos, moustaches et al. So outsiders may find it surprising that The Horrors, a band off the charts on the androgyny scale, are greeted by an eager crowd rather than a baying mob.

But good music is good music no matter how you dress. Since 2007’s hipster Strange House (an album that provides no songs tonight) the Southend boys have grown, matured, experimented and flourished. Primary Colours and Skying were both critical and, perhaps more importantly, popularly fawned over. They have developed a truly unique sound (a depressingly rare commodity these days) which borrows from the best music of the last 30 years whilst still managing to sound like it’s from 200 years in the future.

Main support comes from Toy, a band somewhat unfairly tarred as being some kind of Horrors-lite option. Whilst the sound was a bit shaky, their energy and some truly outstanding head banging wins over the half full venue. And whatever way you look at it, ‘Left Myself Behind’ is a cripplingly good tune.

And to the main event, with the venue and expectancy now close to maximum. Striding on stage with the confidence of a band in near perpetual ascendancy, they launch straight into the stomping ‘Mirror’s Image’, with its haunting guitar slides setting the atmosphere of the evening.

Songs which other bands could only dream of writing are dispensed without reverence, with minimal chat or interaction sought or acknowledged by the band. Faris prowls the stage as he snarls the lyrics to ‘Scarlet Fields’ as the cacophony of droning guitars and Rhys Webb’s bass reaches it’s krautrock climax. The audience partake in little exuberance, instead adopting a pose somewhere between awe and worship.

In fact it is not until Faris goads them into action prior to ‘Endless Blue’ that the band’s energy is granted physical reflection in the crowd. Sonic layer is built upon sonic layer as bodies collide to the beat of drummer Joe Spurgeon’s snare.

‘Still Life’ brings the first act to an end, with every indie kid’s favourite track of last year rising across the room as the song’s bass brings about a temporary calm before the euphoric chorus kicks in.

Obligatory stage exit taken, The Horrors return to continue the onslaught, firing off ‘Changing The Rain’ and ‘Monica Gems’ before the jam out of all jam outs ensues. This seemingly spontaneous interlude gives an insight into the joy these five musicians have making music together, with them appearing to forget there was anybody else in that room at all.

The epic ‘Moving Further Away’, with it’s running synth lines and soaring vocals brings a massive end to a truly outstanding concert.

Most bands are supposed to be rusty on the opening night of a tour. But The Horrors are no ordinary band. Having transformed themselves from the hippest of hipsters to genuine contenders for ‘sound of the generation’ accolades it appears there is very little they can’t do. With a fourth album surely in the works, prepare for more amazement.

 

Mark McKinlay

 

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