In the run-up to Halloween, it was only apt that The Horrors should make an appearance. Coinciding with the release of their critically acclaimed 5th album ‘V’, the Southend experimental post-punk rockers came to Sussex University and brought all the stage presence and atmosphere that we’ve come to expect from a band who are probably known just as well for their imagery as for their music.
It all began with multi-instrumentalist Rhys Webb in a trance-like state, swaying from side to side with an absent stare, whilst singer Faris Badwan prowled the stage. The rest of the band, however, seemed content with just getting on with playing their instruments, without fussing much about adding to the visual performance. Throughout the gig the songs alternated between dreamy electronica and throbbing punk, a feat which some bands would struggle to achieve without sounding forced and unnatural, yet The Horrors manage to pull it off effortlessly.
It felt like a throwback to the 80s and the strange world of post-punk, where new wave and punk rock intermarried to produce some very unique and alternative new music. Generally the songs were well received by the audience, although there were definite crowd favourites such as ‘Still Life’, which sounded amazing with all band members hitting their stride and the instruments coming together tremendously. Occasionally the odd song would plod along a little bit, but we can forgive them for this as they were captivating for the vast majority of the set.
We were very impressed by how vibrant the new songs sounded and the crowd’s reaction proved to be a positive one, with tunes such as ‘Weighed Down’ translating particularly well onto the live stage and sounding experimentally beautiful. Although The Horrors are much changed from their early punk days, they haven’t sold out by any means. Their new songs sound fresh and continue to push against boundaries, despite what some of the more traditional punks would have you believe.
The Horrors closed with new song ‘Something To Remember Me By’, a fitting climax for a band that’s not easily forgotten. Despite the fact that there was an absence of any stage antics of the like that has appeared on previous shows, the imagery, blend of sounds and experimental nature of the music all contributed to the gig being an unforgettable experience.
Few bands have changed their sound so much from album to album and this makes for a truly fascinating mixture of genres when The Horrors perform live. Although this might make it hard to enjoy every single song they play, there’s bound to be something in there for most people. We’d be surprised if anyone wasn’t completely captivated by at least one of the songs at this show.
The Horrors, Attenborough Centre, Saturday 28th October 2017
Words by Jack Moore
Photos by Ashley Laurence