Wild Beasts swoon for a rapturous Liverpool Music Week crowd, Getintothis’ Adam Lowerson joins in the swell and asks, ‘Who needs a Mercury nomination, anyway?’
It’s hardly characteristic of an overtly cynical industry that the winner of a major music award is generally accepted among fans and critics alike. Yet, this was the case earlier this week as Young Fathers scooped the Mercury Prize for their album Dead, much to the appreciation and acceptance from the music world.
It was probably the first time in many a year that there were few arguments, with the majority of the music world in agreement with the decision.
It was however, slightly controversial that Wild Beasts’ fourth studio album Present Tense was omitted from the initial 12 album shortlist. An album that was widely-considered as career defining; a statement-making return to the scene. The record was released to huge critical acclaim and adoration from fans, but for some reason, never received the recognition that a Mercury nomination brings. Whatever the reason, it was completely shown up tonight. Wild Beasts are a band with a point to prove. A band who are truly at the top of their game.
Performing a set Present Tense heavy, the Cumbrian four piece brought their melodic, hypnotic sound to Liverpool’s O2 Academy. The set also comprised several tracks from their earlier releases, completing a career spanning set which now covers well over eight years. Early favourites in the set include Mecca and Sweet Spot, two tracks which showcase perfectly frontman Hayden Thorpe’s enormous falsetto along with the groups now synth driven, alt-pop sound.
Tracks taken from Two Dancers such as Hooting and Howling and All The Kings Men are instant crowd favourites, but more importantly act as markers for how much the band’s sound has transformed over their four LPs. Their quirky, folk rooted sound is a stark contrast to the electronic, majestic, almost grandiose sound of Present Tense. Wanderlust is a key example of this, with its haunting synth lines and uncompromising, spiteful lyrics about Americanised British bands. The Present Tense Wild Beasts feel like a band in their element, finally finding their comfort zone. A group who in the early days were considered leftfield also-rans now feel like a backbone in the alternative guitar-rock stable.
Earlier in the evening saw a performance from former Golden Silvers frontman Gwilym Gold. His sound is minimalist, stripped back piano accompanied by his bare, exposed vocals. The soulful, intimate set made for a smooth, easy listening beginning to an evening curated by the headliners.
Nimmo and the Gauntletts upped the tempo with their polished pop eclecticism, taking inspiration from the disco, electronica and new wave. Co-vocalists Sarah Nimmo and Reva Gauntlett sing in delicate harmony, decorating an instantly catchy sound with simplistic melody.
Money were perhaps the support act bringing the biggest reputation to the fore, having built a growing reputation through intensive touring over the past couple of years.
They are atmospheric and captivating, fronted by a man who spends the majority of the set singing from within the crowd, delivering his soaring, graceful vocals with aplomb. It’s only a matter of time before Money are headlining shows of this stature themselves.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Darren Ashton.