LIVE: The Horrors @ Leeds Beckett University, 21.10.17

There’s something different about The Horrors. It’s intriguing. Even in the 2007 Strange House era, they ignored the expected get-up of shaggy hair, tales of broken hearts and dreams of being an indie heartthrob, and instead introduced their inherent darkness and mystery. They’ve never been afraid to offer up something we weren’t expecting.

A decade has passed and though they’re not as unsettling as they once were, their ventures into obscurity still work. It may be just a little lighter and involve not-so-skinny jeans, but they’re far from becoming anything conventional.

They look as elusive as they sound. Concealed by shrouds of smoke only revealing their silhouette, the swirling psych riffs of ‘Hologram’ take you back to Numan-esque new wave but with an added sense of gloom. Their exploration of new age electronica continues into ‘Machine’, whose tales of “cold simulation” and “mannequin moves” turn into reality. The foreboding stance of frontman Faris Badwan, joined with his weary wails of passion overpower the accompanying, alluring beats.

A mid-way return to the Primary Colours days that broke them away from being Essex’s only gothic faction is long-awaited. Pints are raised and cheers are heard in approval with the thundering basslines of ‘Who Can Say’. The biggest game changer is ‘Sea Within A Sea’ with its dragging keys and drifting melodies that rotate between being dream-inducing and on the verge of becoming a deranged nightmare.

The thought that goes behind their live sets and tracks is something of a science. Whether it be guitarist Joshua Spurgeon’s homemade pedals or synth player Tom Furse’s loud and proud pyramid synth, it all comes together seamlessly. It really just is a science they’ve perfected.

Fresh from V, ‘Press Enter To Exit’ checks suave off on the list of The Horrors’ attributes. It’s a dawdler but doesn’t sway too far from familiar territory. Badwan is in his element, strutting around the stage with the mic stand in hand, not afraid to tower over the crowd while the others venture forwards also exposing themselves from behind the shadows.

As the end nears, they push it back with the slowed down Spiritualized reminiscing riffs of ‘Still Life’. The crowd’s endless cries of “when you wake up” team up with the dark psychedelia brewing underneath to revive us from our engrossed state.

After requests for their return, the five figures return to the stage. Not ones for saving the well-known tracks for the encore, they drive on with two taken off their latest record. ‘Ghost’ and ‘Something To Remember Me By’ contrast each other perfectly. The former complexly unwinds itself with skittish electronica to become the most unconventional ballad, while the latter fills the big pop-hole the band have left empty since their beginnings.

The Horrors will always be The Horrors. We’ve grown to accept they’re going to create what they want and won’t listen to anyone else, but that’s what works. With their live sets, they don’t need any small talk (or any communication at all) to talk themselves up. The music does it all for them. Just please, don’t be another three years till we can experience it all over again.

Becky Rogers