Review: Editors – Ulster Hall, Belfast
There’s no queue outside the Ulster Hall as our support act this evening take to the stage. Only one of the venue’s bars are open – the sign of a quiet night – and even that is eerily subdued. Tickets aren’t sold out but an eager few are paying at the door and the number increases as the night progresses. Still, right now it’s 8pm and a sparse crowd greets Cork band Talos who fill the space sonically, if not literally.
Skipping trip-hop rhythms and shoegaze soundscapes meet a singer of the Irish folk ilk seemingly mourning his lost love, or the “weight of the world”. Yes, that’s one of their lyrics. It’s spectacularly-moustached slow-motion hipsterdom but more than that: blending waves of oscillating sound produce a kind of danger with the two percussionists (one sporting the aforementioned moustache) creating a heartbeat thud which thunders in ‘Your Love Is An Island’ as it builds and builds… And then ends, on just the right side of chaos.
On 12th October Editors cancelled their Aberdeen show because lead singer Tom Smith had lost his voice as a result of a bad cold. Fans with tickets for the next few shows waited with bated breath to see how Glasgow would fare on the 13th. It went ahead, if a little hoarsely. This is the 15th and the rest the previous day seems to have done Smith the world of good.
Editors are here to promote their sixth album Violence, the imposing stage backdrop displays the album cover image showing two men and a woman naked, entwined in a struggle. Although the band begin with the pensive ‘The Boxer’ from 2010’s In This Light And On This Evening. For this, Smith has no guitar and he takes full advantage of the situation, casting his eyes ceiling-ward, graceful hands winding the mic cord round his wrists as if spell-casting.
Next, the rhythmic one-two punch of ‘Sugar’ kicks in and he slinks along, propelling himself with shoulder action. ‘Hallelujah (So Low)‘ is the first song from Violence here and its sharp defiance leads us neatly into 2006 single ‘All Sparks’ and 2007’s ‘An End Has A Start’, buoying the crowd with the searing familiarity, songs tumbling after each other like a cart speeding up, careering out of control on a track but as part of a completely controlled set, the audience lapping up the tempo.
‘Darkness At The Door’ once again reveals the showman; all theatre, bowing like a crouching crucified Jesus; arms and mouth spread wide. “I know we make miserable music but we want you to have a good time!” calls Smith and indeed, it’s one of the most joyous post-punk influenced evenings we’ve seen.
‘A Ton Of Love’ seems to floor Smith with every word yet ‘Nothingness’ displays just how un-floored he really is, the audience yelping in their excitement to hear this song off the new album which hugs the rounded tones of his baritone.
A pinprick lightshow adds to the temporary lull of ‘Ocean Of Night’, the only song from the 2015 album In Dreams, guitarist and keys player Elliott Williams sitting at the piano to create a hymn-like feel complete with gospel chorus, Smith adding the synthy chimes. Smith takes to the piano himself to play a slow refrain, which gradually speeds up to become the storming ‘Papillon’ and the audience reacts in kind, energetically feeding back to him as the band force waves of percussive electronica on us.
‘Belong’ is played on acoustic allowing everyone to catch their breath, guitarist Justin Lockley joining on electric, which he bows with a drumstick as the song builds to something akin to a crashing rock opera. A short interval follows ‘Magazine’. It’s barely long enough for the crowd to get through one chorus of “Ole, Ole…” when the expected encore occurs, with one last nod to the new album with opening track ‘Cold’ and everything the crowd hasn’t yet heard that they’re desperate to hear, notably ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors’.
We end, finally, on ‘Munich’; their first UK top 25 single and likely the introduction most audience members here had to them. Music finished, the five piece gather at the front and take a group bow, the audience making sure they know that no, it’s not a sold out night. But it’s a resounding success.