Frenetic and incessant set from enrapturing Editors at the Brixton Academy.
Talos almost, kind of, sort of, maybe doesn’t make sense as an opening band for Editors. Now, that’s not to say that Talos
isn't as good as Editors but, rather, to point out just how different the two bands are. Talos is an electronica-and-dub-influenced alternative rock project, the kind of music that would exist if someone approached mellow lo-fi hip-hop beats from a rock singer-songwriter point of view, whilst listening to indie folk and art-pop. Talos’ music is gentle and powerful all at once. Whilst specifically the work of one person, Eoin French, a five-piece band presented the work live at the 02 Academy Brixton, and even with two of those members playing drums, there was never anything aggressive or overtly rock-y about them.
Opening with perhaps their best-known track, ‘Odyssey,’ the band ran through a handful of songs in a slick, polished way that hewed extremely close to the studio recordings on the album. As vocalist French swapped between guitar and keyboard between songs, and as the bass player swapped from bass guitar to pads and between songs, still the drummers on either side of the band thundered away. In spite of the band’s size and enthusiasm, however, there was a peaceful quality to it all even in the song’s spiralling freak-out moments. They played if it can be suggested, in a way that was quietly loud. It wasn’t anaesthetic, but it was comforting and lulling. Night-time music for sun-sets and sun-rises and chilled out reflective times.
And then there's Editors. Classically rock with beefy riffs, chunky bass, thundering drums and the kind of frontman who reminds you of those who’ve lived twice (or thrice) as long as he has if they were starting their career today. Unapologetically un-indie, the band
puts on a show that hearkens back to old-school rock performances, without a hint of throw-back, tribute, or parody (even if there were at least four jumping kicks mid-riff from at least one band member). Taking their place on the stage as they came out, each band member in specific zones around the stage, frontman Tom Smith prowled the stage through the intro of opener ‘The Boxer,’ before planting himself at the mic as the lyrics slunk out of his mouth. Amps littered the stage at random, as drummer Ed Lay sat on a riser in the back and multi-instrumentalist Elliot Williams, spread himself out in the midst of a number of guitars, keyboards, and pads, also on a riser. The bass (Russel Leetch) and lead guitars (Justin Lockey) found themselves at the front of the stage on the left and right, respectively, as Smith slid his way around them.
Over the course of a 22-song set the band hardly let up. As each song crashed into its ending the lights would cut to black and the audience would have maybe two-to-three seconds to recover. Maybe three times there was enough of a let-up for Smith to thank the audience or the venue, never for longer than ten words, though, before the band would kick back in. What stands out live is the power of Smith’s voice – while not unexceptional on recordings, the sheer force of the baritone, that fucking baritone, as it pours out of Smith is enrapturing, and when he switched register he still showed no sign of letting up.
True, Talos and Editors might not be similar, musically, but they’re both exceptionally themselves, live.