The Horrors - The Roundhouse, London - 12/10/11

26 Oct 2011

“As a fan and a critic: I like the first album, I hadn’t written it off.  So, please play some songs off it...”

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Having seen The Horrors for the umpteenth time this Summer, any formal review – judging them on the basis of their live capabilities – seems pointless.  I have already reviewed them not once but twice on this site in the last few months, and so I shall spare readers from any dredged-out response about how the evening went.  For those interested in their performance on this particular occasion: they were great.  They played their songs with the usual ferocity, ‘Sea Within A Sea’ and ‘Moving Further Away’ slayed the audience (as they are wont to do), and Faris again proved that he gets a little better at singing every time he steps up to the microphone.

Beyond that though, there is nothing more to say on the specifics of the performance; it was essentially a carbon copy of the two times I’ve seen them before this year, both gigs I reviewed emphatically.  Instead, here are three reflections on their live prowess, as they’ve occurred to me over the past while.

Firstly, as I’ve already said, Faris is becoming a better singer, but beyond this, he is becoming a better a frontman.  The band will be rattling through one of their songs, ‘Mirror’s Image’ or ‘Monica Gems’ – something with some serious bite – and out of nowhere, he will unleash a fierce shriek.  It’s a strange sound that, given the band’s undeniably affected appearance, comes as a complete shock and imbues the performance with even more pep.  It’s an observation compounded with each gig, as Faris’s caterwaul becomes even more unforgiving.

Secondly, and feeding on from ‘Firstly…’ both numerically and thematically, the wonderful squawking would benefit renditions of the much-overlooked first album.  It’s an album they are trying to get away from, and it’s not hard to understand why: it smashed them onto the scene, with the pre-packaged gothic-cum-romantic aesthetic in tow, and it condensed them into a nice marketable size.  Just the right size, in fact, to be swallowed whole by the hype machine.  So much has been made of how Primary Colours marked a profound departure for the band, and instilled a sense of ‘don’t-write-‘em-off-yet’ in fans and critics.  But as a fan and a critic: I like the first album, I hadn’t written it off.  So, please play some songs off it.

Thirdly, and finally, this gig cements their ability to play to biggish crowds.  They should now add some sense of spectacle.  The trippy-ness of both Primary Colours and Skying would benefit some serious psychedelic backdrop work.  They seem okay borrowing from the musical handbook of My Bloody Valentine, why not the visual one?

So there you have it.  A cop-out of a review, but three thoughts on The Horrors and their ever-impressive live shows.

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