Two Door Cinema Club Impress In Bristol

by Camilo Oswald

After the tumultuous 4 years that followed the campaign for second album Beacon, Two Door Cinema Club are a band in the midst of self-rediscovery. The extent of their existential grievances are evident in their new album Gameshow, caused by the gruellingly extensive touring which is the professional hazard that comes with making a living as a band in today’s free streaming world. Their new funk-inspired sound finds Alex Trimble wrestling with his demons and it seems Two Door have managed to harness their troubles and wear them proudly on their sleeve without sacrificing their signature groove and histrionic melodies.

The evening is set in motion with debut album opener Cigarettes in the Theatre, sending the crowd into a frenzy in a nostalgic nod to the quick-stepping, adolescent energy of their days of yore – a masterful way to set the pace. Undercover Martyn then comes to life to be met by the first sing along of the night; their fanbase (called ‘the basement people’ who owe their name to lyrics in the same song) are certainly in the building tonight, adulating in full force. What follows is a relentless quickfire of the indie-disco bangers such as Do You Want It All? and This Is the Life that made Tourist History such a ubiquitous album. What instantly comes to mind is the way in which Two Door Cinema Club have always managed to provide the refreshing and strangely uncommon mix of being an indie band with excellent melodies and guitar-driven edge, but one you can dance to.

On comes Changing of the Seasons, a song from the one-off and only EP in between albums, and in reflection, you can spot the gradual change of direction that bore the seed of the new album. Then funky radio hit Bad Decisions sees Alex perfectly executing the songs trademark falsetto, which by surpassing the recorded version almost borders on showing off.

The ominous, flat electronic beat of Lavender introduces what is my favourite song on the new album. It’s curious to note that it starting its existence as a textbook pop song which Alex wrote independently before bringing it to the band and stamping the two door signature all over, an approach which certainly worked; it is an instant live hit with the fans and the tenacity of this earworm will evidently only grow with every listen. Next Year – the forget-me-not long-distance ode to a past lover – is certainly a highlight of the evening, as in light of the darker tone of the new material, it benefits of an added touch of poignancy from when they started writing about the troubles of being in a band that is constantly on the road.

Fan favourite Something Good Can Work is announced with the side note that it was first made available online in 2008, giving their longevity deserved emphasis, to say nothing of the songs infectious samba-like rhythm which makes for the most innocently euphoric moshpit imaginable. The multiple tempo changes in Are We Ready? (Wreck) should ordinarily fool the crowd, but tonight’s audience is having none of it as they giddily lap up every curveball sent their way. Then new scorcher Gameshow takes no prisoners with its profound intensity and catharsis in Alex’s howl, which he has likened to exorcism in interviews.

Forgotten former lead single Sleeps Alone then emerges out of nowhere and I find myself surprised at knowing all the words – a theme felt across the evening, I discovered when speaking to even casual fans outside after the gig – which speaks for Two Doors’ brand of catchy yet personal songwriting. A beautiful duet during World is Watching with Laura from supporting band Anteros ensues, and by the time the infamous sample of I Can Talk bursts to the fore, the crowd is in utter chaos. Sun starts to wrap up proceedings in gorgeously warm fashion, with gold lighting resembling the title and an adoring reaction from the crowd at its sincerity, aptly delivered before the encore.

Someday kicks the riot off again, which I initially found a curious choice for the encore as it appears to not be a widely known, though its undeniable energy gets no complaints on my part. But predictably so, it appears to be merely laying the groundwork for Two Door Cinema Club’s anthem for the ages, What You Know; it is introduced perfectly and minimalistically by Alex singing the chorus with his guitar, his silhouette juxtaposed against a blinding white light behind him, resulting in shiver-inducing anticipation before the now-classic guitar riff and Afrobeat rhythm sends the crowd dancing home in an exhilarating finale. It seems Two Door Cinema Club’s relevance will remain out of question for as long as they keep writing songs for the heart, mind and feet and performing them with such candid flair.