The Horrors @ O2 Academy, Bristol, 01/10/2014

The Horrors"Blinded by the Light" is not a song by The Horrors. It is however a song that sets the tone for the Southend five-piece as they open their show at Bristol Academy tonight. There are lights of every colour flashing in the audience's face, as they slowly build towards their set opener "Chasing Shadows". I find myself squinting and cast my eyes on my fellow audience members, who are all doing the same.

The dazzling lighting makes the audience quite clear of The Horrors' intentions from the get-go: their latest album - Luminous - has a moody disco edge to it and with such an impressive and colourful display, it’s clear that Faris Badwan and his cronies want to bring a moody disco to Bristol Academy. Three minutes in and they have succeeded, the lighting has got us in the mood for dancing and the disco commences from the moment this opening track drops.

The three albums that have come before The Horrors' latest effort are equally loved by their fans, but these records have a more moody vibe than the disco mindset of Luminous. With the necessity of playing these songs then, how do the five-piece cope with keeping the disco vibes going? The answer is quite clear from within the first two minutes of the sprawling eight minute, "Sea Within a Sea". They utilise their remarkable musicianship to create a gloriously overwhelming wall of sound. There comes a point midway through "Sea Within a Sea", where you are not sure which instrument is making which noise - it has all combined into one hypnotic wall of sound, that carries you like a wave through the sea.

Amidst the intensely moody disco merging into an overwhelming wall of sound, there comes a point midway through the set, where you feel close to being overpowered by the music at the halfway stage. In this sense, The Horrors pace their set list perfectly: just at the point where you can dance no more, they play the mellow "Change Your Mind". This stop gap gives the audience a chance to restore their energy before the disco picks up again and occurred on several occasions. The Horrors thus deserve immense credit for pacing their set so intelligently.

The lead singer of The Horrors, Faris Badwan, has always been an enigmatic figure: his face has been half obscured by his hair for almost the entirety of the last ten years, which combines with his remarkable lankiness to make him always seem so distant and tall that he can't be engaged with. Yet throughout this show, he exudes a sense of camaraderie, as he conducts his audience through this disco epic. By the time the five piece conclude their set with the progressive psychedelia of "Moving Further Away", he has truly engaged with the audience and he no longer comes across as distant. And so it is that he just needs to wave his microphone in the air twice to have the entirety of the venue clapping in time to the instrumentation that closes the song.

By the end of the set, Faris has become the charismatic and engaging ring leader of the moody disco that has taken over this corner of Bristol. He thrived in this role and combined perfectly with his band mate's impressive musicianship. We've been blinded and overwhelmed, but we've been given a truly memorable, if intense, evening.


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