Phoenix, Two Door Cinema Club
Steven Morgan 29/03/2010
I hadn't been to the Roundhouse before, it was round. Shocking. Anyway, what better way than to visit yet another live music venue in London that I hadn't previously been to than with the great combination of Phoenix and Two Door Cinema Club? That's a rhetorical question by the way, it's all subjective, yeah?
So the thing is, Two Door Cinema Club have been getting a bit of flak lately off the back of their début album since musically it's the equivalent of the clip show episode in a TV series that sums up the past five years of musical buzz bands without actually adding anything new. It's a criticism I can't argue with too strongly, but regardless, the songs are still engaging enough that I still really like them. As they began, my first thought was that I could have sworn when I saw them at Truck that they didn't have a drummer. Apparently between then and last night they seem to have acquired one.
The response is good for their up-tempo danceable indielectro with stadium sized reverb dripping lead guitar. As a support band they play a perfect set, though I don't mean this wholeheartedly as a compliment. Their music is instant enough to catch the hooks on first listen, the disco drumbeat is prevalent enough to get the women bouncing slightly and the men bobbing a little, Alex Trimble's voice sits beautifully and tenderly above the layers of MSG below him. These are all good things. The problem lies in the fact that despite this being only a thirty minute set, it somehow managed to feel a lot longer than that. Their sound is so distinctly ambiguous and there is very little variation to the pace or mood of the songs. Sure they can write some infectious bouncy numbers, but over the course of a full set, a fatigue sets in and slowly the punch drains away from each element until your mind starts to wander. Perhaps harsh, but when directly correlated against Phoenix, it's hard not to make the comparison.
After a break which continues to build the anticipation, the strobing silhouettes of Phoenix burst into a blistering rendition of Lisztomania from behind a giant white sheet that obscures a direct view of the stage. As the sheet drops to reveal the passionately animated band backlit by a series of dazzling vertical LED strips, the adrenaline kicks in and you're so caught up in the moment you have no choice but to be as into it as they are.
I don't know if it's just me, but I often find with Phoenix that I keep forgetting how much I like them until I actually start listening to them. Here in the live environment, almost every song transcends to another level as the "I love this one!" area of my brain frenzies into overload. We're treated to a great spread of tunes from all four of their studio albums, mostly drawing from the latest exquisite LP Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Beforehand it had always been It's Never Been Like That has always been my least favourite of their output to date, but there's no arguing with the fantastic impact of songs like Long Distance Call, Consolation Prizes or Sometimes In The Fall each so much bigger and almost overwhelming live.
The only criticism I can possibly throw at the set was the half hearted guitar interplay between Love Like A Sunset Parts I & II. As a way to change the pace, it was definitely useful, but as the prolonged, minimal jamming continued it was only made worse by the ill timed crowd attempting to clap along to the barely trackable rhythm of it all. It was only saved by the mischievous looks on the guitarists faces who were evidently enjoying each note reminding you that after all that's preceded it, they could kick into Metal Machine Music at that point and still have me onside.
As the set drew to its close, the beats progressively got harder, the guitars slowly got louder and the crowd acted as though it wasn't a Monday. As the band leave the stage before the inevitable encore, there's no way anyone was going home yet. The band returned with a tender country tinged cover of a song whose lyrics are in French and whose title I'm oblivious to. Though I and most of the crowd had no idea what this song was, it was the perfect respite lull to prepare the audience for the phenomenal two closing songs. First up was the summery breeze of If I Ever Feel Better that began as with its recorded form before being reworked into a stomp of gigantic riffs reminiscent of Daft Punk's Robot Rock in its sheer uniformity and scale. It's enough to send the crowd into a frenzy further exacerbated as the opening notes of 1901 play for the final song of the night. The band were positively frantic on stage by this point, belting out the notes with such ferocity yet such precision that you're left thinking "surely they can't do this every night!?" whilst savouring it all while you can. As the song drew to what you thought was the end met with rapturous applause, Thomas Mars appears on a plinth amongst the audience giving his thanks to those there before ploughing into the final chorus of 1901 yet again and returning to the stage through a natural combination of walking and crowd surfing.
You know what you should do? You should go see Phoenix live. The only regret you could possibly have is the knowledge that you'll never be as cool as them.