Has a band ever been more about reinventing themselves than The Horrors? Think back to the goth-punk Strange House days where you wouldn’t be able to see anything but the thin-leg policy, monochrome clothes and overly sprayed hair, whereas nowadays we’re treated with multiple records of synth-filled, psychedelic shoegazing hits. Following the release of their fourth album Luminous, The Horrors took to the NME / BBC Radio 1 stage at Reading Festival to play a mind-blowing set to the unexpecting, packed tent.
With a crowd filled with people awaiting the arrival of The 1975 and Disclosure, there were only a few die hard Horrors fans who ended up filling others in on who was coming up next. “Just expect loads and loads of synths” was the answer to most. As soon as ‘Chasing Shadows’ broke out, the strobes and the smoke machine went overboard drowning the stage and leaving even more intrigue for those about to become acquainted. The lights dimmed for ‘Who Can Say’ leaving frontman Faris Badwan’s authorative stance centre stage even more disconcerting as he was left he chanting the Jay & The Americans ‘She Cried’ breakdown along with the crowd whilst only accompanied by a lone bass drum and hand claps.
Another member of Primary Colours followed on – ‘Sea Within A Sea’ – the track named by Badwan as their best song to date. Tom Cowan in the corner worked his magic on his pyramid synth (yes it is actually a thing) which left the rest of the Southend guys to leave the crowd entranced with the lasers and electronic-garage-rock. Scatty, euphoric melodies took over the tent which left even those not there for The Horrors climbing up on people’s shoulders to get a better look. Sweeping through a few more off their recent LP, soon it reached the emotional ‘Still Life’ which could make even the toughest guy shed a little tear. The anthemic track left arms swaying along with the heavy synths and screams of the line “when you wake up / when you wake up / you will find me” making it the highlight of the set.
Delaying their exit as much as possible they ended their set with the notorious 7 and a half minute long ‘I See You’. Badwan was left bouncing around the stage alongside bassist Rhys Webb as they both pummelled the way till the end. Cowan sauntered around his set up of numerous synths flourishing an array of glittering sounds. Joshua Hayward looked effortlessly cool under those long locks whilst playing those unmissable riffs and lastly Joe Spurgeon’s urgent laying down of the beats left the set ending on an unavoidable high.
The Horrors synth-orientated sound is a far cry away from the following acts of The 1975 and Disclosure so pulling off a set in the way they did with the crowd support they received shows how much bigger they’re going to get. Luminous is going to get them far.