Hot off the back of releasing two of 2015’s best indie guitar records, mewithoutYou and The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die (TWIABP) brought their co-headline tour to an eager and intrigued midweek crowd at London’s Tufnell Park Dome.
Philadelphia five-piece mewithoutYou oblige in opening up this show with a packed set that barely paused for breath, with frequent overlap between the ending of one song into the beginning of the next.
Frontman Aaron Weiss is absorbing, darting between his two vocal mics – one for his clean spoken word and the other for his overdriven and wrenching bellow. He is just as beguiling with an acoustic guitar singing the band’s more toned down numbers as when he’s skipping around the stage making full, and really quite graceful use of his mic cable.
As a unit the band are refined and offer the audience cuts from last year’s Pale Ghosts, as well as older favourites ‘Torches Together’, ‘January 1979’ and ending, to much approval, on the yearning ‘Carousels’.
TWIABP had stripped their touring line-up back for this European trip, with only 8 of the sometimes ten plus members that the band have been known to expand to.
You wouldn’t necessarily notice the few missing, as their sound is full, yet defined and never opaque. Every member is heard and incumbent, a trait that they’ve carried into their live shows from their last record Harmlessness.
Opening with ‘January 10th, 2014’, the ensemble are intricate yet loose, with the tempo and their trademark rhythm changes rife throughout the set, notably in the ‘Rage Against The Dying of The Light’ / ‘Ra Patera Dance’ run that they perform as on the album.
The only time TWIABP really sit still is in their ambient sections between and building into songs, making the Dome sound like a post-rock cathedral. ‘Getting Sodas’ from TWIABP’s first full length album, Whenever, If Ever, makes for a triumphant ending with it’s blended, chanted coda ending in the words “If you’re afraid to die, then so am I”.
Arcade Fire they are not, and they are not trying to be, but the visual effect of that amount of people on a stage singing at you with as loud and as crafted a sound that TWIABP have can never be undermined, and makes every performance, including this one, an event in which their songs, occasionally labelled as verbose, create something tangible and sincere that the audience can buy into.