Deerhunter / Atlas Sound

O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London on Sat 7th Nov 2015

You never quite know what you're going to get with Deerhunter, be it on record or with their live shows. Whilst this unpredictability has worked in their favour and showcased their overwhelming versatility when it comes to their albums, there have been mixed reports when it comes to their shows – with the promise of a good show seemingly dependent on frontman Bradford Cox's mood.

The evening gets off to a worrying and disappointing start. Performing in the support slot under his solo moniker as Atlas Sound, Cox spends some 40 minutes creating soundscapes that, whilst interesting for a brief period of time, don't really go anywhere. There's a palpable restlessness amongst the crowd as the set goes on but never develops. Whilst many try to remain attentive, the queue for the bar seems to get longer and longer and another vast chunk of the audience reach for the distraction of their phone
 
Fortunately, following a brief intermission, there's a wildly different vibe to Deerhunter's set. As the band launch straight into a euphoric rendition of 'Desire Lines', there's a sudden intoxicating feeling of celebration amongst the crowd.  Much of the material from new album 'Fading Frontier', which forms a large part of tonight's show, proves Deerhunter are a band very much at the top of their game.

Shedding the abrasive distortion of previous album 'Monomania', which is completely ignored tonight, there appears to be a tightness and renewed sense of vigour about the band. A case in point is recent single 'Living My Life', all the more powerful here for the injection of a formidable groove usurping the ethereal tone of their recorded version.

With the crowd in the palm of their hands, they close their main set with a frankly astounding 'Nothing Ever Happens', fleshed out to some 15 minutes, with a nod to Patti Smith's 'Land' as the song goes on and on, before reaching a furious and thrilling climax. Whilst this could be taken for being pretentious in the hands of others, this is a glorious and unifying moment between the band and audience, as a number of crowd surfers reach for the stage at various points throughout the pulsating, extended outro.

It's impossible to see due to the number of people sat on the top of their friend's shoulders, but there's surely a smile on the face of Bradford Cox as he declares this "the best show, and easily the best crowd we've ever had in London." On form like this, Deerhunter deserve a brilliant audience. They also deserve a bigger stage.

article by: Craig Jones

published: 09/11/2015 11:23



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