Wild Beasts Live Review @ O2 Shepherds Bush Empire (Shepherds Bush) - 24 Nov 2011
Wild by name they may be, but the Mercury Prize nominated Wild Beasts still managed to send a sell-out house of dedicated followers into raptures of soothing sighs on this, the second of their two nights at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire.
With a back catalogue of three albums upon which to draw - including this year's 'Smother' - there was no paucity in set material, nor in showing why they have been conquering each town they've played on recent tours across N. America and Europe. The Cumbrian art rock/dream poppers play with a refined grace and fragility, inflicting a poetic passion and emotion into each song that is both uplifting and sigh-worthy in equal measure; from the sparser shades the like of 'Deeper', through to dance tempo'd 'We Still Got The Taste Dancin' On Our Tongues', and naturally, the eponymous 'Bed Of Nails'. All of which are artfully, and near uniquely, reproduced live to as near perfect renditions of the recorded versions as one could wish for.
The twin heart-and-soul of the band, Heyden Thorpe and Tom Fleming, define their sound. The dream-laden recent single 'Albatross' becomes a kind of electro duel-off on synths, whilst wrapped vocally around each other, with Thorpe's soaring falsetto played against Fleming's lower register vocal pitch. On 'All The King's men' vocal tones are reversed, and roused are the crowd for heartfelt singalong accompaniment.
Layered textures that have been honed over successive live outings ooze and burst forth on 'Hooting and Howling' and 'Reach A Bit Further'. Thumping bass that is often enough to alter heart rhythms, the guitar of Ben Little providing such a masterful interlude of six-string dexterity on 'The Devil's Crayon', and the rhythms worked out on drum pads and loops by Chris Talbot add yet further to the complex charm.
The finale, 'End Comes Too Soon' is a majestically dispatched seven minutes, set amidst darkened lights through which it glitters like stars across a night sky. As the crowd surge out onto the streets of Shepherd's Bush at its end, the word is this: a beast of a show.
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