Thursday, 21 January 2010

Delphic + Mirrors @ Brighton Audio

If there was any question about how music fashion has evolved over the last couple of years, the answers could be found at Brighton Audio. Rather than bands formed out of scruffy lager swilling lads in skinny jeans who think that the world revolves around The Libertines, The Strokes and Oasis, this sold out gig featured two bands bringing a smarter, overtly pompous attire to the stage. Support band Mirrors look more like actors or models with their dark shirts, suit jackets, ties and cooler than thou haircuts. Meanwhile Delphic (pictured) are like scissor sharp cool geography teachers in clean white collars, who only speak to the audience to announce the bands name and to say thank you at the end. Rather like overpriced sparkling mineral water these groups are pretentious perhaps, but refreshing at the same time.

The lack of rock ‘n’ roll styling also applied to the audience behaviour, which seemed somewhat subdued for Delphic. After all, this is a band that seem to promise the possibility of giddying plateaus of euphoric abandon with their focussed mix of electronic preciseness and taught guitars. However, maybe because of the venues slightly cramped low claustrophobic stage, or just the fact that it’s a dreary Tuesday night, Delphic were not able to deliver that big hands in the air moment. The band tick all the right boxes – strobes that suck your eyeballs, sharp near perfect looped instrumentation, beats that blend seamlessly from song to song, glacial cataclysmic rocket ship washes of sound, all of these things bring the band so close to taking off, but they never quite do.

Delphic have a cool unaffected manner on stage – even when a sampler gets knocked over onto the floor it doesn’t seem to phase them – but that manner seems to somehow translate into the music tonight. Delphic obviously understand electronic music and can structure a song perfectly; Red Lights, Doubt and the closing instrumental Acolyte all demonstrating well executed peaks and troughs , but there’s a lack of passion that leaves most of the audience nodding and bobbing rather than pumping and bouncing. If this show had been a sexual liaison it was a perfect gentle kiss with intentions of going further rather than the full deal of a delirious orgasmic rush.

We’ve reviewed Mirrors live shows before here and here and tonight as support act some of their visual aesthetic is lost. The screen on which their minimalist visuals are displayed is tucked to the side behind Delphic’s fluorescent tube lighting, and the masses of keyboards are forced to congregate around Delphic’s drum kit, rather than lining up in a deliberately regimented formation. If anything Mirrors show more humanity and emotion than Delphic though, with the lead singer attempting some fey indie kid meets drunk-uncle at a wedding dancing and attempting to speak to the audience. Attempt is the best description here though. For example Search In The Wilderness is introduced as being “About searching in the wilderness.” Hardly informative or inspiring communication really. The bands music – the sound of the bastard child of OMD and Depeche Mode artificially inseminated through a Juno 60 is at times dark and luxurious whilst on other songs such as Into The Heart displays more than just a knowing wink to the 80’s. In fact Mirrors are so 80’s influenced that they run the risk of just being seen as a parody band – this could be a negative criticism but then we could have said the same of La Roux 18 months ago, and look what happened to them.

Despite these reservations - that for Delphic the gig never really kicked to a higher level, and for Mirrors that they verge on the side of ambience that becomes pastiche - both bands provided incredibly competent musicianship, well structured songs and a synthy seriousness that makes The Libertines et al seem but a distant memory for now.


Breaking More Waves Blog said...

PS: Apologies this is the third time I have used the words "Scissor sharp" to describe a band / artist on this blog. But hell, that's still far less times than Fearne Cotton uses the words "awesome" and "amazing" on her show every day and she's a paid presenter.

Peter said...

I was this gig and pretty much agree with your review. Delphic were great but never did reach liftoff.

I kept kind of wishing that it was 1am in the Bestival big top rather than a damp Janury night in Brighton.

Mirrors were great fun and I think my friend summed it up best when he bumped into them at the bar we were in afterwards. He told them they were like all the best bits of bands from the 80's. He meant this in a good way but they didn't seem to take it so well.

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Couldn't agree more Peter.

The group I went with had exactly the same discussions on the way home.


Having seen them the previous week at their Oxford leg it seems the venue is often a big factor when it comes to a proper show or not.

Oxford was a lot larger, more square as a space and the stage is raised up, wider and could accommodate more lights.

It seemed the perfect stage for Delphic at this point in their ascendancy. The show was awesome, the crowd loved it and I couldn't get it out of my head for days.

Audio's stage is lower, the ceiling makes it feel cramped and you can't fit screens and lights in their properly either. In my opinion however, because of the venues history and connections they pull in bands that literally don't fit.

I'm guessing that the same fate will befall Marina & The Diamonds too.


Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Yes, the space of Audio could have certainly been a factor.