As a hip-conscious teen I would have had The Horrors laboriously written on my school bag. A hipster talisman that would both trump all emo satchels and death metal rucksacks. “I’m into The Horrors and therefore I’m as cool as them”. And with the release of their third album, ‘Skying’, I might well have actually meant it. Because The Horrors have always been a band I really wanted to like. When I first saw a picture and heard the name, how could they not be good? But in truth they weren’t. Records like ‘Sheena Is A Parasite’ came and went, promising much but delivering little. ‘Primary Colours’ might have contained one of the most perfectly realised musical moment of the 21st century in ‘Sea Within A Sea’, but in terms of delivering a genuinely, jaw-droppingly great album it still fell a little short as an end-to-end experience.
But the band who take to the stage this evening do so with that elusive prize tucked safely under their belts. Belts that would fit the average 10-year old. ‘Skying’ is that end-to-end experience, and along with selections from ‘Primary Colours’, makes up the entirety of the set list. It’s as if they read my mind with it – “yeah, don’t worry about the first album, that was no good. Do a few off the second and loads off the third”.
As the bowel-rumbling bass of ‘Changing The Rain’ fills the sweated room, the band silhouetted in strobed silhouettes of purple and red, it’s obvious that they’re finally, truly worthy. Farris cuts an enigmatic figure leading the charge, the whites of his eyes never once visible through the backlit dry ice. The swirling psychedelics that permeate the album are all still there but live they’re underpinned by a much rockier performance; Joshua in particular living out a guitar hero fantasy as he assaults both instrument and audience with some massive playing. This is clearly a performance with loftier aspirations than a 500-strong room, and the shift in audience from skinny backcombed acolytes to a noticeably older audience seems to confirm the band’s elevation from fickle hipster flavour-of-the-month to something plenty more long-term and solid.
Indeed, it’s sometimes hard to equate the show we’re watching with its setting, the band condensed on stage before a generic C2 backdrop with its whiskey-sponsored logos. The lush visual immersion of the recent videos, ‘Still Life’ in particular, screams out for live interpretation, and the panic with which the gig sold out nods to the fact that this is the last time we’ll see the band in such intimate surroundings. The fact that there’s an air of the detached cool about the music and its performance means this is no ill-fitting progression – this is an arena show in all but arena from a band who know that’s where they’re headed.
CONCORDE 2, TUESDAY 25th OCTOBER
WORDS BY NICK COQUET
PHOTOS BY ERIN O’CONNOR