November 10, 2015 by Robb Powell
Even though I had regained access to my new spaceship flying iPhone a week before, I was unable to use it to capture even one little snapshot from the Editors gig at the O2 Academy in Birmingham. I’ve been to a lot of mega-rammed gigs over the years. One tends to have little choice than to get intimately acquainted with a whole host of strangers one would rather not be getting that close to. Clearly some don’t have the same standards of personal hygiene. The amount of people squeezed into this venue was insane. INSANE, I tell thee! And yet it was all part of the energy and fantastic for a band so dearly loved. Particularly locally, which the ever enigmatic band lead Tom Smith acknowledged and thanked all for.
The band delivered a phenomenal set but then, they really were never going to be anything other than ferociously fantastic. There is some special kind of energy they exude and they radiate this out over the crowd with such aplomb while remaining touchable, not beyond the reach of us mere mortals. The ability to hold the audience in the palm of the hand the way Tom does, by just being there on stage and doing his thing amidst the band, is intoxicating. You cannot fail to become so fully and completely immersed in the unique live experience Editors create each and every time. No Harm from their most recent new album – a song released as a free download to email subscribers – was a perfect way to start in true kickass fashion. In the best possible way my ass felt duly kicked.
Other new material followed but not having heard In Dream in full yet I hadn’t heard the recorded versions but live the band always nail whatever they do. It’s Bang! Bang! Done! kind of hammering skills. As they obviously did and I’ve often got more into albums from hearing the material from bands live at gigs first anyway. Salvation was – blow you so far beyond the Milky Way you could taste the neighbouring galaxy – fantastic! There was such a depth to it I felt vertigo grip me by the feet and swing me around a few times before opening my eyes as the song finished having to pinch myself that I was in this place amongst so many others. Putting it more simply, it was very special.
I must be honest, I wasn’t overly struck on the big full-band version of Nothing that came near the end of the set. It certainly wasn’t bad but after being spoiled by the stripped back Tom solo acoustic version at a couple of previous shows, it’s hard to fully immerse myself into this particular rendition. If anything, it’s just me being selfish. It does work both ways of course and I’m sure I recall that solo acoustic live version getting lambasted when he first performed it at a concert in Germany that was streamed live on YouTube. Oh yes, I was there for that too. Watching I mean, not at the gig in Germany although had I that kind of money I certainly would dart all over the world to sample gigs in different places. Just because, why not? Whoever whinged about it needs their ears checking and quite possibly syringing out because Tom’s performance is so spellbinding and spine-tingling it can only leave you open-mouthed and salivating for more. As does the similarly solo version of Formaldehyde. And, thus it was for this show’s solo acoustic choice, the classic second album opener Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors. WOW! There was a flood from all the serious salivation going on! As much as the entire band together connect with you while they’re on stage, when Tom is up there on his own it is like the levels of intensity sky rocket off the scale. The whole crowd drop away and it’s just him and you.
Naturally, plenty of goosebumpage was enticed from favourite classics like Blood, Bullets and closing with Munich was magnificent. Then, when Tom sits down at that piano and begins banging out the intro to The Racing Rats it transports me right back to my first experience of that awesome follow up album to debut The Back Room. This bolstered up even more by a fully charged performance of An End Has A Start earlier in the evening. Spectacular synth-drenched Bricks and Mortar and Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool from album #3 opened the way for a monumental rendition of Papillion, which later closed the encore. Outstanding!
Oh the fire. The passion! The life! The magnetism and energy. The sheer scale of the quality of music, song and performance. Come the end of the show I was a dripping mess. It felt good. It always does and is why I will always be back again next time. Just like the other million loyal sardines packed inside that and all venues this band play wherever they be.