The War On Drugs, Brixton O2 Academy, 2 March 2015


A full concert by The War On Drugs is something I’ve really been looking forward to. They were brilliant at Latitude last summer – see my review of that (Sunday section). But it was only 45 minutes worth. Since then, their album, “Lost In The Dream” has grown and grown. Just about all the papers had it in their top three of 2014. I put it second, though I suspect the music will be longer-lasting for me than Royal Blood’s, which came first.

“Lost In The Dream” is a magnificent album, with roots in Americana, Dylan, Springsteen, Neil Young; but with an electronic backbeat, and almost a sense of dub music at times. It’s moving, beautiful, meandering, and musically inventive. The more I listen – and I’ve listened a lot – the better the album becomes. I’m lost in that dream. And last night’s concert reflected that.

It started with “Under The Pressure” – what else? The moment that ticking sound started, the crowd knew and roared its approval. It is such an epic tune on record, and live it is even better, as lead man, Adam Granduciel, lets rip on guitar. The show started on a high and never came down. All but one song on “Lost In The Dream” got an airing. The one that missed out was one of my favourites, “Suffering”. I wondered if it was just too painful for Adam to sing; but, looking at Setlist FM, it is played, just not tonight. There were plenty of songs from the previous album, “Slave Ambient”, too. “Baby Missiles” followed “Under The Pressure” and the encore had a couple of those tunes, with Adam really wigging out on guitar.

Inevitably, my highlights were the songs I love most already. “Eyes To The Wind”, mid-set, was truly uplifting; and I was relieved and delighted that “Lost In The Dream” made it, first song in the encore. Such a touching, beautiful song.


All the tunes were embellished with echoes, pounding beats – the band were really tight – and awesome guitar solos. Adam Granduciel is one of the best guitarists I have heard in recent years. In my Latitude review, I likened the sound to the solos in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird”; but it’s that and more.

I’ll be interested to see where The War On Drugs go from here. I’m not sure they are really a stadium band. The fragile heart of their songs might be lost, as well as some of that electronic ambience. But the riffing and the solos would make the transition. Fingers crossed they get it right.






About John S

I'm blogging about the things I love: music, sport, culture, London, with some photos to illustrate aspects of our wonderful city. I’ve written a novel called “The Decision”, a futuristic political thriller, and first of a trilogy. I’m also the author of a book on music since the 1970s called “ I Was There - A Musical Journey” and a volume of poetry about youth, “Growin’ Up - Snapshots/ Fragments”. All available on Amazon and Kindle.
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5 Responses to The War On Drugs, Brixton O2 Academy, 2 March 2015

  1. This must’ve been quite something.

    Saw an AltJ gig last Saturday. Will be writing about that and a bit more.

    • John S says:

      Alt-J are headling Latitude this summer, so that will be a good opportunity to see where they’re at these days. I’ve not, to date, got into them hugely; but my son likes them a lot.

      • I like the band’s music quite a bit, enjoy both albums. But from what I saw they don’t seem like an arena live act. Mind you, they are a very tight band but smaller settings might work better for them.

  2. Resa says:

    Yet another band I never heard of! There are many times I think I don’t a band,, but when I hear their music, I’m like …. Ohhh, that’s the band who does that!

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