The Horrors command the Newcastle University Student’s Union stage even before they enter. Music plays as the diverse crowd await, with numbers growing as the time nears 9pm. A cheer of anticipation goes up as the lights turn green, smoke covers the stage, and The Horrors appear.
Lead vocalist Faris Badwan is enthusiastic from the get-go, darting around the stage with wild hair and wilder moves as they open with ‘Hologram’ - lead track from their latest album, V. The fusion of synth and guitar is powerful, creating the perfect atmosphere to groove to. They flow quickly into ‘Machine’, a song which boasts a thunderous build-up of guitar and electronic sounds. The band members remain in shadow yet maintain an impressive stage presence throughout the show, somehow balancing the line between enigmatic and pretentious.
‘Who Can Say’ is a highlight, with the combination of a beat that doesn’t give you a moment to breathe, and the unexpected spoken word verse slotted into the middle. It is a clear fan favourite as people passionately sing, “and though it's hard for me to say, I know you're better off this way”.
This drum beat was addictive, and nobody could help but stomp along in unison.
There’s a long intro for the next song, with an electrifying beat developing as ‘In And Out Of Sight’ begins. At times the vocals battle against the instruments, which seems almost expected from this band. The synth influences make it difficult to classify a genre for The Horrors, as they could fit be labelled garage rock, shoegaze or any mixture of the two. The electronic riff halfway through the song is excellent, and the song leads nicely into ‘Mirror’s Image’. This drum beat was addictive, and nobody could help but stomp along in unison.
Badwan introduces ‘Sea Within A Sea’ to a roaring cheer from the audience. The lengthy, intense intro is worth the wait as the insane guitars and drums kick in around three minutes in. Badwan’s lamenting refrain of, “I know it well”, is repeated by the crowd, perhaps the loudest they have been so far. This song showcases why The Horrors are best experienced live, as the album version struggles to capture their energy and talent.
There’s a brief pause, and more subdued sounds as the next song begins. You could be fooled into thinking this is The Horrors version of an acoustic, until a solitary beat kicks in and brings it to life. ‘Weighed Down’ features excellent lyrics, and arguably Badwan’s best vocals, as he crows “weighed down, didn’t need another life to lead”. He leaps onto a raised box at the front of the stage as the song climaxes and the music swells - perfectly timed. A personal favourite performance, it ends with Badwan thanking the crowd for coming, then simply stating “we didn’t come for the conversation”, before diving right back into the tunes.
‘Press Enter To Exit’, another track from the new album, follows the (very brief) audience interaction. The song’s chorus is the best part, with impressive electronic distortion running throughout. This is followed by ‘Endless Blue’, another song that deceives the audience into chilling, before picking up the pace. The crowd loves the chorus, belting out “I don’t want to be so far away” as Badwan jumps around the stage.
The guitar riffs, addictive beat and distortion all work together to build up to a huge drop, and an absolutely insane guitar solo whilst Badwan leaps across the stage at the crescendo.
Their most streamed song, ‘Still Life’, ends the set. Clearly popular, the fans sing along to the chorus, with a sea of hands in the air. The song sounds somewhat chilled in comparison to the latest album, perhaps due to the more obvious synthesiser influences in their newest tracks.
The band return for an encore, shrouded in smoke and low lights. ‘Ghost’ really highlights Badwan’s vocals as strong and purposeful – perhaps the music starts stripped back somewhat but nonetheless retains their essence. The guitar riffs, addictive beat and distortion all work together to build up to a huge drop, and an absolutely insane guitar solo whilst Badwan leaps across the stage at the crescendo.
‘Something To Remember Me By’ ends the show, a standout from the album and the night overall. Showcasing their strengths, blending of vocals and musical influences of synth and rock, it keeps the crowd’s energy up to the very last second. At nearly seven minutes long, it’s a sprawling yet fitting song to end on.