Edit this event
- Hoxton Hall, London »
2009 could be the year for Wild Beasts. No doubt. After releasing last year's debut, Limbo, Panto to a smattering of critical applause (but not a great deal else) much was mused on the potential of this Cumbrian four piece. They were as divisive as they were brilliant, but with Two Dancers they are winning over almost everyone. And why the bloody hell not? It's that mixture of high hopes and appreciation which brings everyone out here tonight. With The Hoxton Hall smelling like a cross between a pre-teen school disco and a particularly damp woodyard, smoke has descended and the humidity is high. Wet with rain, wet with perspiration, and very, very wet with anticipation.
Emerging to thudding bass and Benny Little's ever present and resonant guitar tones in 'This Is Our Lot', it not only feels like the start of something special: it is something special. It also happens to be the start of a four-and-a-half-minute crescendo of not just music but of creeping smiles. Four silhouettes in the cyan smoke cut contrasting figures. Hayden stands almost pigeon toed, lanky Benny sways back and forth, and Tom is the very idea of the rugged northerner, now complete with beard and action man haircut.
The dynamic in the band has changed – Hayden now plays bass on several songs, and Tom is the lead vocalist on much of the material. The songs from Limbo which are played (it's about a 70-30 split) are those more fitting to their current focus - the less raucous, “Marmite” music that drew the most frequent criticism of the band. Tom even engages in a bit of the odd squeal himself – some undoubtedly surprised that the “WATCH ME! WATCH ME!” belongs to him in the winking sleaze-fest (“you birthing machines”) that is 'All The Kings Men'.
Much has been made of their sound on record, but what they create live is only a little bit more raw and maybe even richer. You almost don't notice the chiming guitar or the pattering bass, so flawlessly does everything fit. Given that Two Dancers was only released four days previously – a fact which confuses Tom “it's out soon...wait, no, it's out now!” – it means that the audience hasn't had the greatest chance to fully absorb the unrivalled beauty of it all. The openings of 'His Grinning Skull' and 'The Devil's Crayon' are met with the most enthusiastic response. It dawns on me how much Wild Beasts are band marching to the sound of their own (offbeat) drum. That we have in this country a band like this should be shouted from the rooftops, daily. Maybe even hourly.
The light show is almost as impressive as the aural delights. The venue tonight is perfect – the red curtain, the two-tiered stage, the balconies which eyes peer down inquisitively from. Ending on 'Cheerio Chaps', I begin to feel a tear forming. It may be induced by the smoke, but the force which carries it out of my eye is the doing of the music. Impressionable 16-year-olds are often inspired to pick up instruments by bands like Sonic Youth, Pixies and countless others. Wild Beasts make me want to do the same and, what is more, they are an utter joy. England's finest.
Photo by Paul Gregory
- EP Stream: Luke Abbott - Object Is A Navigator
- This Week's Singles 22.10.12: Everything Everything, Jessie Ware feat. Wild Beasts, Villagers
- Latitude 2012 - Drowned In Sound's Sunday blog
- In Photos: Latitude Festival 2012 - Day 3 @ Henham Park, Suffolk
- Latitude 2012 Bill: Bon Iver, Bat for Lashes, Brian Cox and billions more brilliant bands announced
- My Top 10 live shows of 2011 by Dom Gourlay
- Spotifriday #121: The Antlers, PJ Harvey, The Shins + more
- DiS' Favourite Albums of 2011: 20-6