Editors With Support From British Sea Power

by Jack Reid

Upon stepping into the Great Hall, I was reminded of its vastness. The room is about as tall as it is wide, with obtusely formed features such as sonically shaped balcony seats and an overhead PA system that looks like a robot hive mind suspended above the stage. This space will take some filling, I thought.

British Sea Power certainly delivered on volume; their heavily affected layers of guitars formed a wall of noise that was in some places reminiscent of listening to The Enemy, or Elbow, or some other Dad-rock band from the end of a drainpipe. I’m not saying I hated British Sea Power, it’s more appropriate to say that I came away from their set far more confused than I went in. The stage had an awkward smattering of fake foliage during this encounter, and the branches were decorated with fairy lights that, whilst passable during stadium style wailers, were completely incongruous when things got heavy.

The mood of their songs was erratic, with one particularly jarring transition moving us from the aforementioned echoey dad-rock vibe toward something like hard rock, with high-pitched howling over shredding guitar solos. Then, back to the Dad-rock. Oh, and there was a violinist. In fact the violinist may have been responsible for what PearShaped Writer Jack Saunders called a ‘homeless Arcade Fire’ vibe. I don’t really know what was happening to be honest.

Editors arrived on stage impressively punctually, to a stage impenetrable with smog. In the ensuing light show onslaught I took in the audience around me, a surprising collection with ages ranging from 18 to 50, a fair amount belonging to the higher end. I wondered why for a split second before I heard the first of Tom’s bassy tones and simultaneously saw a middle-aged man wearing a hoodie featuring the album cover of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures.

From the very first note, Editors were far more present and punchy than they ever are on record. The calm intensity of Tom Smith’s frontmanship is enthralling, as is his faultless vocal performance. The set was altogether more aggressive than what I expected from a band, who in recorded material, sound intense only in a dark and moody way. On the stage they add a gritty dimension that is truly knee-wobbling. For instance, The Boxer’s ticking percussion took on the airs apocalyptic countdown, with layers of guitars coming in cresting waves rather than drones, and Tom’s vocals took on far more of a cry than a morose proclamation.

In the interludes of Editors’ formidable show that allowed closer examination of the band members (most of the lights left you with a kind of retinal burn-in that looked a little like the video to A Ton Of Love), Tom looked manically weary, emotionally heavy, perhaps part of the performance. Over an incredibly hard rendition of Sugar, Tom seemed to cry in baritone into the microphone, before leaping onto his black piano-synth and ripping the mic stand off it. His vocals took on an edge in some of these songs from the The Weight of Your Love that was distinctively like Chris Cornell, simply another interesting layer to an already fascinating voice.

Disregarding the bizarre episode of my life that was British Sea Power’s set, the gig was incredible. The fierceness that Editors brought to their already moody body of work hit me in a way that I won’t be shaking off for a few days. Unfortunately, the empassioned roars of lead singer, Tom, over the riff of Sugar are bitterly absent in the studio version, and they’re far from the only thing missing on record that Editors reveal during their live performances.