20 March 2010

LIVE - Wild Beasts @ O2 Academy 2, Liverpool - 18.03.2010

Wild Beasts are one of a number of contemporary bands who, had they existed 20 to 25 years ago, would have been one of the biggest bands in the country a la The Smiths. There's certainly a similarity between Morrissey, Marr, Rourke & Joyce and the Kendal-via-Leeds band. Sharp, fluid guitar lines, acrobatic vocals and often laugh-out-loud lyrical imagery are part and parcel of Wild Beasts; all three are brought to the fore during their live show.

First support act Lone Wolf certainly lives up to his name. Playing guitar and keyboard solo (the live band "couldn't make the tour") and looking a little lupine, he plays a bewitching set, reminiscent of Bon Iver, just without the overplayed backstory and haunting falsetto. The highlight of the set is forthcoming single "Keep Your Eyes On The Road", which never sounds the same for more than thirty seconds. On the basis of this set, debut album "The Devil And I" should be pretty special.

Erland & The Carnival are up next, and sound like a menagerie of a number of different bands. There are elements of tonight's headline act, the funk of Egyptian Hip Hop, the folksiness of Beirut, the strut of second album Franz Ferdinand (not a bad thing, despite popular opinion) and even the experimentalness of late Blur. This last comparison should come as no surprise when Simon Tong (of The Verve, Blur, Gorillaz and The Good, The Bad & The Queen) is one of the core members of the band. Tong's guitar, along with the relentless drumming of David Nock drive the band's performance. With the current folk rock revival (hello Mumford & Sons, Noah & The Whale, Laura Marling), 2010 could very well see Erland & The Carnival propelled into the spotlight.

By the time Wild Beasts arrive on the stage, the audience are at fever pitch. According to singer Hayden Thorpe, the last time the band headlined a Liverpool gig, there were roughly six people there. There's at least seventy-five times that amount in attendance this time round; "very humbling", in the words of Thorpe. With two stellar albums to pick a setlist from, it's no wonder Wild Beasts turn in a stellar performance. Even though on record, lyrics are occasionally indecipherable thanks to Thorpe's unusual voice, nearly every word is sung back to the band. On this showing, Wild Beasts certainly have the fanbase to reach the level of mainstream adoration that The Maccabees and The Horrors did last year. But should they fail to be picked up by the fickle fifteen year-old "indies", they'll be the biggest and best cult band in the country, which is no bad thing at all.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT: Either the short, bald guy next to me dancing like it was the Happy Mondays on stage or "We've Still Got The Taste Dancin' On Our Tongues"

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