An overflowing sea of people. An old, massive spherical stone railway engine shed converted into a legendary non-profit music theater. A combination of fog machines and brilliant ultraviolet lights casting a heavy blue haze upon the crowd. Hundreds of people moving in waves of trance-influenced dance, roaring and jumping to the throttling bassline and motorik rhythm of Neu!’s classic Hallogallo. This was, of course only moments before Editors stepped on stage to an explosion of clapping, cheering and triumphant roars.
The audience was energized over and over during the entire show, an effort that Smith and Co. clearly dedicated themselves to throughout this generous performance. For the opener Sugar, all the lights were cast from behind the performers, thus enabling the band members to appear nothing more than dark shadows upon a blue-blasted stage. This creepy aesthetic was enhanced only further by Smith’s lurching, hobbled movements, reaching a peak when he suddenly stood upright, brought both hands together in the shape of a gun as he slowly pointed them at the guitarist to his left, and held them there an extended period of time. The audience, appropriately enough responded with loud cheers and clapping, spurring on the band to dive deep into this extensive set.
Over the years, Editors’ sound has been compared to post-punk bands such as Joy Division. Indeed, Editors present a stark, robotic and dark sound bursting with amplification and stoic reflection. However, where Ian Curtis (of Joy Division) appeared to be communicating with the dead through his music, Editors lead singer Tom Smith appears to be speaking to the living.
A flirtation and fascination with the ideas of death and the macabre can be observed not through just Editors’ stage performance but also through the titles of Editor’s songs alone, including Munich, Formaldehyde, and Bones. However, there were admittedly no moments in the show in which its tone ever sunk to the depths of ultimate despair, as Ian Curtis had ultimately done. Even while winding a microphone cable around his neck during the electrifying, drum-machine driven Brick & Mortar, there was no confusion that Smith and the rest of his mates enjoyed performing and sharing this art with others. Even though the songs contained occasionally violent content, the audience collectively cast a huge smile, and a surprising number of persons were singing along the entire time.
Likewise, the band acted as a catharsis for many members of the crowd. Although over half of the crowd was animated and dancing (including those seated in higher sections), at rowdier moments at least a few partially-filled water bottles were thrown. At least a few clouds of ominous smoke could be seen drifting from pockets of the crowd.
In terms of sound, the band captured exactly what you would expect from a post-punk band. Driving, slightly discordant strapping rhythms were exerted from the drums. Robotic guitar melodies consisting of one individual note at a time played fast and many took place over much of the tracks. A throttling bass that could be heard over all other layers. 80’s synthesizers that floated above all the other sounds, and contained a seemingly-infinite sonic world from drifting away altogether. And last, Smith’s moaning, brooding vocals, half spoken, half sung, that swooned listeners until the very last beat.
All in all, Editors proved that dark and moody music could be played while still having an inspirational effect upon the many listeners. This may seem at first paradoxical, but if you are intrigued to discover the power of their music, it is highly recommended that you see them for yourself. And if not for that, then for the lighting alone—the sixth, and certainly not least, member of the band.
2. Someone Says
4. An End has a Start
8. The racing rats
9. A life as a ghost
10. Eat raw meat
11. All sparks
12. In this light
13. Bricks & Mortar
14. A Ton of Love