The Horrors – Ritz, Manchester – Live Review.
Saturday 19th May 2012
The Horrors have been going from strength to strength recently & pulling in new fans at quite a rate, especially following last years much lauded album ‘Skying’. One of our writers who last saw The Horrors in 2007 caught their recent gig at The Ritz in Manchester & reports back for us below.
The Horrors’ transformation from mock-goth, Screaming Lord Sutch covering outsiders into a Mercury Prize nominated, dance infused psych-rock band has attracted a following that would have previously been alien to the group. The group’s debut album, Strange House, earned them a cult, mascara heavy, black clad teenage audience, assisted by a cameo on the Mighty Boosh, (see ‘Count In Fives below) whereas subsequent efforts Primary Colours and Skying have catapulted them firmly into the indie elite.
This could not have been made plainer when a middle aged man stood in front of me began to dance as if it were a Take That gig. Whether under the influence of drink or drugs, such antics must be frowned upon. However, it highlights just how the far the band has come since the early days of 2007, where gigs supporting Florence and the Machine’s arena tour would have been unthinkable.
The absence of any material from their debut album shows that the band themselves have moved on. The powerful hour long set is testament to their change in vision and philosophy, sounding more like Screamadelica era Primal Scream than the 60’s garage rock that was the catalyst for the group’s inception.
Set opener ‘Mirror’s Image’ is driven by Tom Cowan’s keyboards and Joshua Hayward’s My Bloody Valentine-esque swooning guitars, and Faris Badwan’s aggressive delivery is the proverbial icing on the cake. The brilliant ‘Who Can Say’ sees the band at their art-rock best, and material from latest album Skying showcases the reasons for their critical acclaim.
‘I Can See Through You’, ‘Still Life’ (See above) and recent single ‘Changing the Rain’ emphasises their ability to craft the kind of melody that inevitably fills indie-dancefloors across the land. The epic ‘Sea Within A Sea’ and set finale ‘Moving Further Away’ both sound even better live than on record, with the latter combining Kraftwerk style keys with a display of guitar heroics from Joshua Hayward which even Kevin Shields would be proud of.
The only dissapointment of the night was the relatively short eleven song set list, although with the exclusion of their debut album, the band did play a majority of tracks from both of their subsequent efforts. Support came from London band TOY, who are definitely ones to watch during 2012. Their half an hour set featured recent single ‘Motoring’, which has recieved significant airplay on BBC Radio 6 Music. The driving krautrock of ‘Left Myself Behind’ is in the same vein of Primary Colours, and Horrors bassist Rhys Webb has declared them his favourite band of 2012.
The last time I saw The Horrors, previous to Saturday night, was back in 2007, whilst supporting the Arctic Monkeys at Manchester Central. The overriding memory of the night was hostile reception that the band received from the hoards of twenty-somethings pining for ‘Mardy Bum’ and ‘A Certain Romance, and the subsequent barrage of missiles that were destined for the stage. Those same twenty somethings, now most likely thirty somethings, form the majority of the crowd at the Ritz.
This, and the dodgy dancing of some of the audience highlights how The Horrors have become part of the indie mainstream. The honing of their live sound, in additional to the critical acclaim of their records allows the band to make an assault on this year’s festival circuit, and take their success to the next level.