Everything Everything performed to a packed O2 Apollo in Manchester proving, once again, that they are one of the most consistently compelling and unsettling bands around.
In a set largely based on their last two albums, 2015’s Get to Heaven and last year’s release A Fever Dream, they managed to merge the euphoric with the disjointed, the heart-wrenching with the downright disturbing.
The band began with the latest album’s title track which, initially, I thought an odd choice for an opener but it set the evening up perfectly. It slowly built from nothing into a pulsating hypnotic trance, before the lads proceeded to unleash Blast Doors to blow the roof off.
“Drop another depth charge, coiling like a viper
Eyes so close together make it harder for the sniper
Shoot a starving porno for the yuppies in a circle
Second death upon you swimming backwards like a turtle.”
Jonathan Higgs spat the words out with intricate venom, his voice used almost as another snaredrum, and delivery of lines such as “genuflecting in a penitent way” (Kemosabe) and the opening lines of Distant Past and No Reptiles is utterly percussive. This makes sense as, earlier, I learned from drummer Michael Spearman that Higgs is a pretty handy drummer, often providing drum parts for tunes which Mike then hones.
One of the highlights of the night was Zero Pharoah – a lesson in restraint. It felt like the “gimme the gun” section at the end was going to go on forever before the bass dropped and the drums fully kicked in again. And when they did? Boom. Crowd meltdown.
Good Shot, Good Soldier had a loose, funky feel, with some expertly chilled and precise drumming from Spearman – who featured even more in the next song, Put Me Together. A beautifully melancholic love song (reminiscent of an OK Computer-era Radiohead), in which halfway through, we were treated to something of a drumming masterclass. Simply stunning.
Setlist ever-present, Kemosabe got the crowd rocking again followed by a personal favourite of mine, Spring/Sun/Winter/Dread. What a melody in that verse – and one of the biggest sing-along choruses of the evening:
“You are a thief and a murderer too
Stole the face that you wear from a craven baboon
‘Cause you did it to her, and you did it to him
And you did it before and you’ll do it again.”
This band has a special knack of creating hooks and choruses you can’t help but sing along to, no matter how grim the subject. It’s quite a feat.
Special mention should be made of the lighting during the show. Excuse my ignorance of such matters, but at some points there were lights shooting across the stage in such a way to make the band look like they were a) blurred and b) playing in the middle of a snowstorm in full sunlight, with a force nine pushing them sideways. It was incredible – I’m gutted I had to put my camera away after the regulation first three songs.
The absolutely banging Distant Past would usually be the highlight of the five encores were it not for No Reptiles, the gig closer. It was mesmeric, brimming with anger and tenderness in equal measure.
As I stood outside the Apollo, waiting for the bus home in the pouring rain, if felt as though the whole street was filled with Everything Everything fans singing the same lines in unison:
“Baby it’s alright
Baby it’s alright to feel like a fat child in a pushchair
Old enough to run
Old enough to fire a gun.”
To listen to Lucy McNamara’s interview with Everything Everything on the Northern Soul Podcast, click here.