It may be hard to see where the pen is going in The 100 Club tonight, what with all the dry ice floating around, pumped into the venue without the slightest hint of irony – I’d almost forgotten what it smelled like. An advantage of seeing some bands play this place, though, is you are often getting to see an act used to bigger stages, and the joy is to see them playing here out of choice rather than necessity. The Horrors could easily be selling out Brixton Academy.
The band opens with the stunning trio of ‘Sea Within A Sea’, ‘Who Can Say’ and ‘Scarlet Fields’, all taken from their 2009 album, ‘Primary Colours’. It is clear from the start that, while this is officially a gig to celebrate the release of new album 'Luminous' (review), released just five days earlier, they won’t simply be running through the new record chronologically.
Just to make sure they have the capacity crowd firmly in their hands, the band rolls out the majestic ‘I Can See Through You’, from their last album, 2011’s ‘Skying’. Then, it’s time to test out some of the new songs.
‘I See You’ is the first of two offerings tonight that have extended endings – nothing short of tremendous wig outs, propelled by the epic effects of guitarist Joshua Hayward. The songs takes five minutes to wind up, then down – but that’s nothing compared to the 10-minute climax to the gig which comes later.
New single ‘So Now You Know’ may be on heavy radio rotation – a real marker for how tight its makers are sounding right now – yet for this airing the crowd is oddly subdued. It’s almost as if the audience is waiting for more challenging sounds, and The Horrors certainly don’t disappoint in that department.
Singer Faris Badwan announces that this is their ninth year as a band, to huge cheers. The crowd recognises that for a any act that’s maintained the same line-up over four albums, a cohesive collection like ‘Luminous’ is the next logical step. That said, The Horrors of 2005 wouldn’t be completely against Tom Cowan hiding behind his stack of synthesizers, and they would certainly be in favour of bassist Ryhs Webb’s increasingly loose dance moves.
Badwan is clearly in a playful mood, as mid-set he simply decides to do a lap of the venue. No sooner has his leather jacket – with sleeves way too short – brushed past you, that he’s back on stage carrying on as if nothing has happened.
Final song, ‘Moving Further Away’, is in fact the first time that Badwan moves towards the front edge of the stage – and it is here that we get to that 10-minute ending. When they hit their stride tonight, The Horrors manage to generate the sound of a jumbo jet taking off… as heard inside the engines themselves.
- - -
Words: James Young