LIVE: Editors – O2 Academy Birmingham 16.10.15

Could Editors class a gig in Birmingham as a homecoming? Starting out thirteen years ago in Staffordshire and now with six albums to their name and millions of combined record sales, I’m sure Birmingham would love to class them as homegrown talent. Able to perform to any sized audience and retain their original hunger and energy, the sold out O2 Academy said it all.

Sonically, the latest LP release, In Dream, is a culmination of everything that has gone before it, leaning heavily on 2009’s In This Light, On This Evening. Although many fans thought this venture to be purely experimental with iconic producer Flood at the helm, it is clear that In Dream marks a return to the darkened synths and processed beats that can now be described as their signature sound. This is a side step away from arena rock style of The Weight Of Your Love, 2013’s previous long play effort. It was always going to be fascinating to see how the newer songs shaped up live in comparison to the old time guitar driven crowd pleasers.

An almost modest and nervy applause greeted the band on to the stage and they opened with ‘No Harm’. Withering and sexy falsetto dazed the crowd, hypnotizing alongside the growing, perpetual arpeggio which ticked behind lead singer Tom Smith’s stunning vocals. Being the opener for both the album and the show could not have been more apt.

Straight in with next song, ‘Sugar’, they introduced their vintage sound with the guitars and piano dominating. This got long serving fans more interested in what Smith was crooning. ‘Salvation’ – with saturated Depeche Mode inspired drums, a Hollywood chorus and angular guitar leads – darkened the mood of the performance and changed the dynamic of the venue, making it seem more arena than academy. It is something they have always accomplished as a band and works perfectly with the brooding baritone of his vocals.

A momentary few words of thanks from front man Tom were the first spoken since their entrance, and due to sound problems in previous shows, the anticipation of another issue left no time for small talk. A nod here and there as a gesture of gratitude was all that was needed from then on. ‘Blood’ took us back to first album The Back Room where rapid snare and shoe gazing guitar intensified the buzz in the crowd. This was followed up by ‘An End Has A Start’, a turning point in the night where it didn’t matter what song they played, old or new, the crowd were jumping in support.

Listening to In Dream for the first time gave me a sense of excitement for each new track, that I knew not every Editors fan would mimic; many not appreciating the revert back to electronics. It is something they are more comfortable with, working along side producer Alan Moulder on this latest LP. His input has clearly played dividends creating a signature sound, yet retaining an old school editors melody.

‘Forgiveness’ and ‘Our Love’ from their latest collection were next on the list; the latter, a dead ringer for Bronski Beat’s, ‘Small Town Boy’. The bridge then accompanied by the crisp strum of acoustic guitar added a fresh twist, as layers of vocal harmonies built up over the electro accompaniment. As far as visuals go, their performance was minimal, relying solely on the music with spotlights here and there and strips of light resembling that of the album artwork. But as far as performances go, they had all the bells and whistles they needed.

‘Eat Raw Meat=Blood Drool’ was yet another crowd favourite. Red tinted smoke engulfed the stage for the aggressive performance with a further epic chorus. ‘Racing Rats’, a mid set pick me up, had the audience jeering the guitar riff in a football hooligan style chant. This song was made for the sea of fans all jumping to the off beat crash of the high hat, which made Birmingham’s dingy city centre venue seem too small to carry such a huge song. Lead guitarist, Chris Urbanowicz must have anticipated the reaction, making his way to the front of the stage to showcase his priceless fret work. Mimicking Smith’s lyrics, the audience “pushed their hands up to the sky” to shield their eyes from what could only be the intensity of Smith’s prowess.

An acoustic take on ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Door’ was the bridge of the night and needed nothing more than a guitar, his voice and every audience member singing as hard as they could. It really was the perfect vessel to get the audience ready for an explosive encore.

‘Papillon’ could only have a place in the encore sending the audience into a raging, sweat soaked mob. Ending on a song of this stature would have only left us wanting more, so their final song of the night, ‘Marching Orders’, gave long standing fans the chance to cool off after their cardio fuelled workout, and was the perfect end to an incredible night, a repeating sing a long of ‘keep trying’ fading out till the very end. Their set was a balanced mix of old and new and their performance, flawless.

Natasha Moran

Tash Moran

Tash Moran

Leicester based writer and photographer