The Horrors brought their new album V to Liverpool, Getintothis’ Daniel Bundy joins the masses in the Academy.
It’s fair to say The Horrors have been around for a while.
Having headlined their own tours since the late noughties, releasing albums full of gloomy synth rock, they’ve been pretty much an outer circle favourite since their conception.
Last night at the O2 Academy in Liverpool, they packed the place out with Baba Naga playing support and for the most part it was a good show, but no doubt better if you could see what was going on on stage.
Baba Naga are a gloom band with a sitar tinge. Their heavy rock sound, ‘psychedelic gloom’, is the soundtrack to a nightmarish, dry mouthed crawl through darkness, a sense of total despair in their slow, drawn out vocals and rhythmic guitar riffs.
It’s ominous, foreboding. It’s amazing to hear live.
Their stage presence is largely static. Their musical presence verges on utter hypnosis.
As they played through their set, the crowd nodded along and swayed almost synchronized at times through their set, zombied by the band’s sound. The end of each song endured a longer than normal delay before rapturous reception followed, as if some spell had been broken and people remembered where they were.
It was a short set, roughly half an hour long, but one that no doubt converted any new listeners in the crowd.
Then, The Horrors. They took the stage. Faris Badwan greeted everyone, “Hello and good evening“. Then on with their set.
It feels unfair to take this criticism as low lighting is very much the shtick with gloom. Tonight, however, it tipped the balance a touch too far. Especially as the gig was moved from the Academy’s main room to the smaller Academy 2.
The stage lights were colour filters, swirling across the band and changing from song to song.
It was atmospheric, but needed more as the visibility was next to none.
From about halfway back, you could make out the swishy silhouettes of jagged hair, the occasional thrust of a guitar going up and down. At the back, there were more people either squinting, entering meerkat stance to try and see something or taking seats and just listening instead.
Half an hour in, the lights turned golden and for a brief while you could get a reasonable look at the band but by this point there were a few people looking deflated.
Halfway through, Faris took the time to thank “those of you who asked for this. You’re the reason we’re still going” and the crowd were appreciative, spirits somewhat revived for the second half but not able to match the true excitement that seemed to buzz when the venue was filling up.
Musically, The Horrors were tight performers. All the songs were well received throughout, especially during their 15 minute encore which they “don’t usually do“.
Originally, the gig was billed on Facebook as being the main room of the Academy and there were a few grumblings overhead in the crowd about this and a last minute change may have played its part in the lighting situation.
Yet ultimately, this was a gig that sadly left some feeling like they’d listened to a great live album rather than seeing a show. Worth going to see, just so long as you can actually see them.
Pictures by Getintothis‘ Tom Adam.