The Drums are back – after a 3 year wait since their slightly disappointing second record ‘Portamento’, they return with ‘Encyclopedia’ – an album that ditches the surf rock and happy go lucky melodies for damp and dark textures, layers of despair. The aesthetic of the room reflects The Drums’ new musical outlook tonight, a thick fog of smoke encompasses the stage and drifts into the crowd hiding Gorilla’s usual rustic charm. The atmosphere of the crowd however does not, excited fans of all ages gossip and take off their winter layers as the room gets steadily warmer and more clammy, ready for the show.
Jonathan Pierce’s entrance is greeted with a wall of sound, cheers and high pitched screams for the fearless frontman. The band begin with ‘Bell Laboratories’ and ‘Let Me’ from the new record. The former begins with a piercing, disconcerting synth added to a mysterious orange glow and Jonny’s face cast half in shadow, the start of the show is nothing less than haunting. Despite this distinct musical change, lyrically Pierce is the same dark and depressed character as ever in ‘Let Me’ – “they might hate you, but I love you, and they can go kill themselves”.
Thankfully, Pierce himself has not changed either. His unique dancing style is ever present, camp and gentle as his hips flow swaying side to side, precisely flicking his hand in a repeated motion as though swatting an invisible fly intent on cramping his style. There is no denying Jonny Pierce is a core part of the music, they’re almost a whole, and neither would be here without the other. The feel and sheer passion for what he’s performing is almost sculpted onto his face. His mysterious and resolved front cannot even be wavered by a cry from the back of the room “JONNY LET ME SHAG YA”. Oh Manchester.
The lights switch up to blue and yellow streams flicking erratically across the stage, impossible to keep track of, as the surf rock influences and dreams of the summer breeze come back to us. Nostalgia and happy memories rise to the surface as The Drums perform ‘Me and the Moon’ and ‘Book of Stories’ and really get the crowd going. The band’s eponymous debut record is clearly still the fans’ favourite. However, in a live environment, ‘Encyclopedia’s tracks have that something extra that their debut record just didn’t give. It’s an epic feeling, layers of new synth sounds and electronic beats that we’re not totally used to hearing from The Drums and the lighting reflects the darker feel of these new songs
The Drums return and continue to play hit after hit – ‘Forever and Ever, Amen’ and the world favourite ‘Let’s Go Surfing’. A nice surprise is the inclusion of tracks from their 2009 debut EP like ‘Saddest Summer’ and Frankie Rose of tonight’s support band Beverly even joins for ‘Don’t Be A Jerk, Johnny’. This epic 6 song encore ends in a truly euphoric moment. The whole crowd sing alone “if you fall asleep down by the water, baby I’ll carry you all the way home”. A beautiful lyric to end a beautiful show, The Drums certainly don’t disappoint.