Striding back onto the stage for the Horrors 3 song encore, frontman Faris Badwan told a full house at Leeds Met “you gotta fucking wake up”. Bad workmen always look like fools. He’s the one who has spent the majority of the last 55 minutes hunched over the mic stand looking statuesque. Which I’m sure is a deliberate ploy to appear effortlessly cool but it does nothing but turn his audience into a hoard of nodding zombies. Maybe someone should remind him how the performer and audience relationship works.
Tonights crowd is young, enthusiastic and like me eager to see a band which should be riding on the crest of wave following the release of their critically acclaimed third album ‘Skying’. This enthusiasm isn’t matched by the band as they emotionlessly trudge their way through the opening salvoes of their set. They’re not helped by the venues poor sound work, which has resulted in the vocals being barely audible, lost amongst a low fidelity fuzz that’s nowhere near loud enough.
Renditions of ‘I Can See Through You’ and ‘Still Life’ are fairly well received by the audience who are obviously happy with the psychedelic pop sounds of their latest record. Whilst fan favorites such as ‘Sea Within A Sea’ and ‘Mirrors Image’ are greeted by cheers of approval but ultimately fizzle out. Only during an exemplary performance of “Endless Blue” did the band rise above the mediocrity of their pre-encore performance. Where their pure musicianship elevated the track to a height it doesn’t quite attain on record.
I’d like to reserve praise for lead guitarist, Joshua Hayward. Who at least made some effort to connect with the crowd, providing the performance with a level of passion and verve that wasn’t matched by his bandmates. All of whom could do with realising that if people wanted to listen to their music whilst watching motionless silhouettes they could use a torch, action figures and their stereos to create the same experience.
Throughout the set there is an almost tangible feeling that the room is just waiting for Faris to give them his nod of approval to go nuts. It’s only during the encore that the crowd finally get their permission to really join in. Ironically it’s Faris’s own show of frustration with the audience that fires him up enough to lose his cool and let some emotion show. Leading them in an anger filled fist pumping rendition of ‘Jack the Ripper’. Unsurprisingly the crowd respond, releasing all of their pent up energy with a huge call and response effort. Pints and bodies start flying across the air and the room is electrified. This is what we turned up to see. In turn the band feeds off of this and keeps the momentum going for the last two songs, leaving me wondering what the Horrors could achieve if they put the same amount of effort into their live performances as they do worrying about how they look.
Listen to Still Life Below