Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Editors - February 15th, 2010

When you hear a drunken fan obnoxiously shout out for their favorite song, you have to wonder whether they realize that there is typically a preplanned set list duct-taped at each band members' feet. A well thought-out set list can propel a make a decent live band sound even better, and a poorly constructed one can derail an otherwise fantastic band. Sadly, the latter was the case for UK's Editors on Monday night at The Vic.

Three albums in, Editors have amassed an amazing collection of songs to pull from. To their credit, they did a great job of delivering most of the fan favorites (except the noticeably absent "All Sparks") and pulling the best off their killer new album. The issue stemmed from the band's struggle with balancing the older guitar-driven sound of their first two albums against the icy synth-fuelled vibe of their latest. They kicked off the set in a ballsy manner, with the chilling, atmospheric ballad "In This Light And On This Evening"; with, front man, Tom Smith's commanding vocals reverberating around the venue. Smith got up from his seat at the piano to strap on a guitar for the song's explosive, grumpy-guitared closure. So far, so good.

The band then went backwards through their catalog for two favorites, with the bass cranked up for a thundering backbone to "Lights". Energetic and powerful, the band tore through "An End Has A Start"; showing off the band's second album as a great bridge between the angular guitar of their debut and the new wave vibe of the latest. Still, the thumping beat and cold synth of "You Don't Know Love" felt like a letdown in the wake of the invigorating riffs of the two that it followed. It felt like the energy they had just built up evaporated quickly with the more hollow sound. Editors may have been better served to lead off with three or four new cuts all in a string, before jumping back to the guitar-led sound of earlier songs. Make no mistake, the band delivered great versions of the new tracks, but the sonic space between the new and old material was a bit too jarring the way the set list played out.

A handful of the new tracks really shined, including the wonderful ballad "The Boxer"; where the fluttering guitar and deep bass groove were more noticeable than on album, and Smith's bellowing baritone delivered chills. The odd creaking beat of "Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool" and Smith's eerie delivery made it a standout. The soaring "Escape The Nest" showed off the band's tight sound on-stage, and some of the evening's best guitar work. The night's best moment came in the encore, with the stomping insanity of "Papillon", with Smith's powerhouse vocals delivering the goods while the band feverishly nailed the poppy goodness. Unfortunately, the low point also came on a new track, "Bricks And Mortar". A standout on album, the song sounded empty and muddled live; and the strangely screeching sample used to give it a 'remix' sound was horribly out of place.

In the end, it felt a bit strange that the material off their best album sounded so out of place at times in the hour and a half set. Editors are a fantastic live band that seems to be struggling with how to mesh the distinctly different sound of In This Light And On This Evening. Hopefully they can shake the uneven vibe the setlist gives off, because when they are on they are among the most enthralling live experiences you will have.
Set List
In This Light And On This Evening
An End Has A Start
You Don't Know Love
The Boxer
The Big Exit
Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool
The Racing Rats
Escape The Nest
Like Treasure
Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors
Bricks And Mortar

Walk The Fleet Road
Fingers In The Factories

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