Swimming Tapes make breezy slacker pop. Not the natural fit as support for Cults, but they go down well with the crowd packed into The Garage in Islington for tonight’s gig. After a bright start, we have technical faults – a ‘broken’ amp and guitar. But they are soon fixed and the band are ready to go again. Performing pop gems like ‘Alison’, ‘Souvenirs’ and ‘Queen’s Parade’, their honey drenched music chimes with endless sunshine and is a light reprieve to the dark night.
Under a swirling smokey stage, Cults kick off with ‘Offering’, before quickly catapulting into ‘Abducted’. New Yorkers Brian Oblivion on guitar and vocalist Madeline Follin are joined on stage by keyboardist and drummer, bringing others into their enigmatic relationship even for a brief period. Always ones shrouded in mystery, there’s a certain sinister sense to their pop-laden sound. But on stage, they’re a bright bunch and bring a lively touch to things.
It’s big hits ‘High Road’ and closer ‘Go Outside’ that get the brightest reaction, and both are tunes with a lively chorus and the most singalong of their catalogue. Last year’s eponymous album got some good reviews from critics, and in the live setting songs like ‘Good Religion’, ‘I Took Your Picture’ and ‘Talk In Circles’ go down well. Synths sound riotous, drums rumble on, keyboard melodies trickle away and deep bassy chords linger on. It’s a potent mix. Dark and brooding on the one hand; light and breezy on the other, Cults perform with a glittering and sparkling personality. Trance-like riffs and Rollin’s gentle sway make for a hypnotic performance.
Seemingly happy to be there, despite having their passports and belongings stolen from the venue that afternoon, there’s an easy banter throughout the show. It’s a bit cheesy, as American bands are wont to be – effusive and eager to please. But with so many moody and broody bands out there, it’s nice to be appreciated. Energised and energising, their passion radiates from the stage to the crowd. Ending on the wistful sunshine of ‘Go Outside’, the crowd spill out into the crisp January air, happy to be part of Cults for an hour.