Beach House – O2 Ritz, Manchester, 27th October 2015
The ‘Sold Out’ signs adorning the front doors of The Ritz and the tangible buzz outside and inside the venue signal that Baltimore’s Beach House are steadily becoming a huge live draw.
Support Dustin Wong is greeted with the warmth and enthusiasm normally reserved for the main act, and his guitar-pedal wizardry is certainly some spectacle. His ecstatic delivery certainly won him a few friends in the North West as he glided through a set of multi-faceted instrumentals.
This Manchester date is one of a handful of UK shows announced ostensibly to promote August’s new Beach House album Depression Cherry, but in a truly surprising twist, the band issued another all-new album, Thank Your Lucky Stars, just seven weeks later on October 16th!
The focus of this evening, though, is more on the former, and the stately ‘Levitation’, Depression Cherry‘s opening track, begins proceedings as the band take to the boards with the minimum of fuss. The lighting is set to Cocteau Twins mode, with Beach House sometimes barely visible in the minimal staging. It suits their music just fine, though, and makes the veritable starry sky that appears later in PPP all the more effective.
Victoria Legrand (vocals, keyboards and occasional guitar) and Alex Scally (guitar and backing vocals) have formed the core of Beach House since their inception in 2004 though they are fleshed out with bass and drums tonight in the shape of Skyler Skjelset and Graham Hill respectively. The four of them produce an incredibly heady mix of sounds; considering the slow pace of the vast majority of their material, the audience is extremely vocal in the right places, and watch with rapt attention as the career-spanning set unfurls.
Legrand has an extremely striking voice – as on record, it is at once somehow tender and utterly powerful, and gives Beach House a unique edge. The ‘new new’ album is represented by the fabulous ‘All Your Yeahs’, which Scally announces is its first ever live outing, and ‘One Thing’, which features some ferocious, distorted guitars and the loudest drums of the night atop Legrand’s trademark velvet voice.
2010’s Teen Dream, arguably the album that propelled the band into another league, provides fan favourites ‘Silver Soul’ and ‘Ten Mile Stereo’, which appear one after the other in the middle of the set. ‘Sparks’, the first single from Depression Cherry sounds absolutely mighty and is a real contrast to the thoughtful ‘Beyond Love’ which follows. ‘Myth’, the sublime opener to 2012’s classic Bloom album, is preceded by Legrand thanking the audience for the ‘gift’ of their attendance and support. Beach House disappear into the shadows at the end of it but happily return for a two-song encore, comprising of ‘Saltwater’ from their eponymous debut and Bloom‘s final track, ‘Irene’, as a fitting sign-off.
The grand old venue, which incidentally hosted the live debut of The Smiths some 33 years ago, is somehow a perfect match for Beach House’s music and they seem perfectly at home here; with their current trajectory though, perhaps next time the stops may include the Royal Concert Centres and Symphony Hall-type establishments across the country.
On the face of it, there are some surprising omissions from the ever-growing back catalogue; no ‘Lazuli’, no ‘Wild’, ‘Norway’ or ‘Zebra’, but it doesn’t matter – every song is greeted like a Number 1 single and at the end, the audience collectively carry that look that says they have witnessed something very special tonight.
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