Real Estate @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, 29/10/2014

Real EstateAs Real Estate launch into a set which has marathon written all over from the first note, it strikes me that in concert they’re not dissimilar to The War on the Drugs; albeit a far cuddlier, more dowdily-dressed version. The thing is, sans the swagger of their aforementioned compatriots, the hypnotic and interlocking spirals of guitar and bass can feel a little indulgent. With the set kicking off a little after 9pm, it feels like a very long collection of songs.

That’s not to say the evening doesn’t present an eminently enjoyable show – because, damn, these guys are good. It’s just that without textural variety, it takes a concerted effort to not let the mind wander. It doesn’t help, perhaps, to have the magnificent Alvvays in support. Indeed they show Real Estate up a little with their perfectly crafted and charmingly performed oeuvre.

It’s worth mentioning the support, as it’s when Real Estate give their songs the emotive thrust ever present in Alvvays, or a cheeky touch of Pavement-esque slacker-y, that they’re at their best. Opening number, “Had to Hear” from this year’s

Atlas does the trick, “Fake Blues” and “Beach Comber” - aka honky tonk Radiohead, from their eponymous debut have a lovely vulnerable charm, and “It’s Real” is sumptuous eyes closed dreamy perfection.

They play London’s more cavernous venue well with their off kilter primary. They also do a grand job of filling the space, though perhaps one might expect that from a band so enamoured with pedal boards. The vulnerable charm thing is important. Though Real Estate may not be men possessed of swagger, they’re very human – they guff up the intros to song, they look awkward, they seem a bit confused but also genuinely delighted to have three tiers of Londoners looking at them - not sure why, we’re mostly c*nts.

A final reservation – the vocals, though they’re to all intents and purposes perfectly fine. But overlying the neat, clean and scientific guitar work which defines the Real Estate way, Matthew Courtney’s vocals feel somewhat untrained. Churlish? A little, perhaps. But hold on, bucko. One might argue that rather than look for a improvement in the vocals, perhaps what might be a little more desirable is little less perfection elsewhere. The songs are naturally well put together enough, so maybe the live experience could do with a bit of rawness.

Basically, I’m saying, be less good Real Estate. Sure, thank you for your time.

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