Finally, ‘80s synthwave duo The Midnight make their way from the States to for their first Scottish live feature at Glasgow’s SWG3. This debut is nothing short of highly anticipated as the roomy venue sells out on a typically damp Sunday evening. Most of the attendees appear young enough to have never experienced the ‘80s but The Midnight gives them a fervent bout of anemoia – nostalgia for a time they have never lived in.
Exclusive support comes from Violent Days, the musical vessel of Swedish pop singer Lina Hansson. The stage is bathed in contrasting neon lighting and suggests the crowd are in for a similar ‘80s retrowave act to the headliners. Her music is certainly electronic-based but in a more contemporary electropop stance – saccharine synths with programmed plodding beats. Her voice is satin-soft dreamlike and she dances vigorously on stage along with her backing band. Her stage persona is very sweet and humble, brimming with an authentic gratitude at being given the opportunity to play this sold out show. Unfortunately, the music is rather bland and hackneyed, aping rather than creating. The crowd response is respectful but as the set marches on, more and more voices keep talking over the music, showcasing a loss of attention. Another retro synthwave band would have been a better start on the right foot.
A colossal roar emanates from the audience’s collective mouth when The Midnight – composed of Tyler Lyle and Tim McEwan - hits the stage and sets the time machine’s dial to the ‘80s. The venue is heaving following the intro of ‘The Years (Prologue)’and the fans’ noise almost transcends into the physical realm when the pair and their backing band launch into ‘Lost Boy’. This emotive number glides over the venue, leaving a trail of musical stardust with silky melodies. The equally sensitive ‘Shadows’ is served next and like the opener, the audience sings along to every word. This electrifying response is maintained throughout the night, rightfully most prominent whenever Jesse Molloy’s saxophone is deployed, elevating this synthwave show to godly echelons compared to their genre’s peers. Saxophones feature on the odd synthwave track but The Midnight utilises the instrument as a staple, marking them apart in a scene that some call oversaturated now.
Lelia Broussard provides both guitar and vocals, the latter most notably enlisted on a flawless rendition of the perennially danceable ‘Jason’. Her singing is direct and knowing, a fine tribute to Nicky Flores’ original, and McEwan’s electronic drumming is gorgeous. Their music creates a hyper-realistic portrait of the ‘80s; ‘Days of Thunder’ serenades an imaginary ‘80s teen leaving his suburban house, jumping into his Chevrolette Corvette, cruising past palm trees and Malibu Beach, whilst backed by a waning sun glaring from just above the ocean’s cusp. Being one of the group’s most popular cuts, the audience erupts into an ecstatic frenzy from the front to the back, truly a remarkable sight to witness. A cover of The Police’s ‘Don’t Stand Too Close To Me’ pays homage to their authentic influences. ‘Vampires’ leads with a seductive saxophone lurking in a rain-drenched alley reflecting neon lights promising cheap thrills. The fans are entreated to a new song called ‘Seventeen’, a tender and vulnerable ballad. The apparent final songs are hit after hit – the optimistic ‘Comeback Kid’, the sparkling but understated ‘America 2’ and ‘Los Angeles’, a song that makes the listener fall in love with someone they never knew.
The band abruptly leaves the venue to a calamitous applause. It’s clear an encore waits in the wings, and surely enough, they return to play a final three songs. The first is one of Lyle’s own songs, ‘Brooklyn’, bolstered by his ethereal guitar work and McEwan’s smooth synth solo. The reverie-like ‘Lost and Found’ follows, chased down by the wondrous ‘Sunset’, which finally closes the set. The congregation’s praise lifts the roof of SWG3 and The Midnight look extremely gracious as the night returns to 2019.
The Midnight are no strangers to selling out concerts across Europe and North America, sometimes performing two subsequent nights in a single city. The demand for this duo’s escapism is enormous and rightfully so. They have rapidly stewarded a rabid fanbase in such a concise space of time – they only released debut ‘Days of Thunder’ in 2014. There are infinite artists riding the synthwave train now but for valid reasons very few of them can enchant audiences like The Midnight. If you’re a fan of retro electro, please buy a ticket to witness this dynamic duo do something people said was impossible - bring the ‘80s back. Glasgow should be included on every Eu
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