Tuesday, 21 February 2012

M83 - Live: Shepherds Bush Empire 16/02/12

I'm not sure why, but a strong proportion of tonight's crowd aren't dancing their faces off. M83 have just finished We Own the Sky and broken straight into Steve McQueen and still half of those in tonight's standing area gaze on in near stationary positions. It's not awe stricken paralysis, Gonzales and co aren't completely smashing it yet, but they're still being true to their records.

Tonight then brings M83’s European lap of glory to London. As fast as the city took in the likes of Midnight City, a few months down the line and it seems to have been all but forgotten. Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming may have been one of the best records of 2011, but it’s 2012 now and there’s new contenders to their crown. Shepherds Bush is tonight full to the brim with revellers but there’s only handfuls of people who look like they’re genuinely excited to be there. 

There's moments of genuine relaxation in which you could be in a James Blake or SBTRKT show, but the rest is pure dream-pop with a stunning dance floor outlook. It’s not all computers though. In a musical environment in which live music actually being played live is so important, they're a tight unit and as time progresses, those present start to realise that. There’s nods to their past as even their self titled album’s Sitting gets a play whilst Saturdays=Youth and Before the Dawn… tracks also feature. Perhaps the most interesting choices come at the end of the set. Midnight City, the track that everyone’s been waiting for erupts and even some people on the second tier of balconies can be seen dancing. This is followed by the distinctly post-rock A Guitar And A Heart as the band leave the stage for the accepted encore.

Returning to the stage with the atmospheric and newly freshened Skin of the Night you can tell why the band decide to play live. Vocalist and musician Morgan Kibby adds a huge amount of talent, depth and even glamour to Gonzales’ live show and in tracks such as Intro (vocals on record are Zola Jesus, but who needs her when you have Kibby) and Skin of the Night, she comes into her own and belts out a stunning vocal line. Closing the night with Couleurs, it’s not quite the dance party they might have hoped for, but for many, it’s perfection. Time and time again M83 pull it out of the bag and if you add a bit more alcohol and sunshine to the mix at the summer’s festivals, they could do it all over again.

Braden Fletcher

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