Opening act The Twilight Sad may just look like your average Indie band in black, completed by a token keyboardist dressed in turtle neck with middle parting and geek classes. But musically, they offer a lot more. Living up to their name with melancholic melodies suited for the night, their menacing set provided the perfect prelude for the UK’s answer to Interpol – Editors. Having lost control of his body either in pain or in ecstasy, Scotsman James Graham sounds like Placebo’s nasally Brian Molko at the times when he’s fighting against a wall of noise. However, when the band fades out his Scottish lilt becomes fully apparent and the extent of his vocal range is breath-taking. This along with his creepily captivating stage presence is a prolepsis to Tom Smith who will walk on stage in minutes, equipped with the largest vocal range in the country. It’s been scientifically proven.
One of the most prominent ‘guitar bands’ of the last 20 years, the electronic synth pulse of ‘No Harm’ shows us that Editors are constantly adapting to the musical environment in which they live. It also reminds us that they’ve got a new album out, IN DREAM, but funnily enough they only play 6 songs from this over the course of the night. Here we have a band less about promo and more about pleasing the masses, something which is hard to come by in a world where record sales are in constant battle with streaming sites. After wooing the microphone and myself with his low croon for 2013’s distorted belter ‘Sugar’, multi-instrumentalist and dreamboat Smith picks up a Gibson ES-335 (a guitar almost as beautiful as him) to bash out the classic ‘Blood’ from 2005 debut The Back Room. The roar of appreciation which echoes around the o2 Academy at this point confirms that Editors’ fan base is still made up of those who first listened over a decade ago.
After this the set really takes off, with the well-known riffs of ‘An End Has a Start’, ‘All Sparks’ and ‘Bullets’ all making an appearance. To ensure that the crowd doesn’t pass out from nostalgic hyperventilation, these are mixed up with newer favourites ‘Formaldehyde’, which sees Smith don an acoustic guitar, and the single ‘A Ton Of Love’ from fourth album The Weight Of Your Love. Upon first listen, this cheesy rock anthem didn’t sit well with me at all, but chanting ‘Desire!’ back at Tom Smith changed that. Almost as if to say thank you for seeing the error of my ways, bassist Russell Leetch then lobbed his guitar pick directly at me before the band left Tom alone on stage for a refreshing acoustic rendition of the usually-punchy ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors’. This was even more sentimental with a new-found souvenir of the performance now in my pocket.
The closing part of the gig saw the band pay homage to their often-overlooked third album In This Light And On This Evening with track ‘Bricks and Mortar’, which apparently draws inspiration from the likes of Depeche Mode, U2 and The Killers. Interestingly, they chose to close the night with another song from this record, and not the timeless ‘Munich’, which instead preceded the encore. I think the highlight of any Editors gig from 2005 to the end of time will always be screaming ‘People are fragile things, you should know by now’ at the top of your lungs. A technical glitch with final techno number ‘Papillon’ however, meant that the show was actually rounded off by new ‘Marching Orders’, the lyric ‘even though you fucked up, there’s still the makings of a dreamer in you’ seeming appropriate here to those of us with a bad sense of humour. Editors’ ability to still end on a high after this minor fuck up establishes them as professionals who probably will release another 5 albums in 10 years’ time.