I went to see the Horrors last night with my good friend Jon G. We’d seen them at Latitude in 2012 and they were brilliant, one of the best of the festival. Since then they’ve released another album, “Luminous”, which is good, but maybe not as good as its predecessors, “Primary Colours” and “Skying”. More of the same big sounds, but not quite as many tunes.
The Troxy is an interesting venue. A real Art Deco treasure in the East End, on Commercial Road, travelling out from the edges of the City to Limehouse. It opened in 1933 as a cinema/musical hall, went through difficult times after the Second World War, became a training venue for opera singers and then a Mecca Bingo hall. It’s been revived as a multi-puporse venue since 2006.
I didn’t take any photos from outside last night as the light was dimming, but it did look impressive. This is a photo from 2006.
And here’s one I took inside last night.
The support band were Telegram. I’ve heard them a few times on Marc Riley’s evening show on BBC 6 Music and liked what I heard. I thought of the music as Buzzcocks/Ramones with guitar solos. I wondered whether their name was inspired by the great T.Rex track “Telegram Sam”. I doubt it, but maybe their Dads or Mums had the record. Anyway, they were pretty good. Looking forward to hearing an album.
And then The Horrors. Their show is an experience – the big, swirling sounds, the lights, the dry ice, the shadows. The band don’t expose themselves – for the most part they are silhouettes behind the flashing lights. It’s a powerful, but also quite detached presentation. The guitars soar, the keyboards scream, the drums pound furiously. And the lights, the lasers, get in your face. It’s big. It’s impressive. But, you know, there aren’t that many tunes. Singer Faris Badwan surfs of the waves of sound, all in black, emerging from the haze. A few people around us, sitting near the back, maybe not committed fans, not knowing what to expect, did leave halfway through.
The lights are extraordinary. There was this laser that branched out to encapsulate swirling cloud, or maybe the sea. Complemented the music brilliantly.
I was happy with the music. All my favourites got an airing. ” Who Can Say”, which does have a great tune as well as an immense beat; “Endless Blue” with its awesome riff; and in the encore, the amazing “Moving Further Away”, with its metronomic beat and swooning vocals providing a canvas for some brilliant guitar pyrotechnics from Joshua Hayward.
So the concert ended on a high. There were longeurs and I guess this is why The Horrors, while being one of the premier indie bands of the last few years, haven’t gone on to stadium status. The lights, the shadow, the banks of sound are so much part of the experience that it just isn’t going to work at three in the afternoon or even nine at night in a rainy field in the countryside. They have to be on the second stage – indoors.
The Horrors are a great band, but you have to meet them on their own terms. Go with the Goth.