Wild Beasts play a penultimate final show at Manchester’s O2 Apollo as part of their UK farewell tour before separating for good.
“We just need to get off the treadmill” says lead vocalist Tom Fleming on the band’s decision to split following 10 years of touring and 16 years together. “We were always from day one riding the descent of the music industry. We’ve been doing pretty well as far as bands go, we just felt like we needed to step back.”*
Drawing a 3,000 strong crowd and reaching close to sell out capacity, this was no time to lose momentum as Wild Beasts ran through a 2 hour packed set-list which features two encores and 25 tracks from Limbo, Panto (2008), Present Tense (2014), Boy King (2016) and the widely acclaimed Two Dancers (2009).
“We’ve always wanted to play this venue”, the band admit to their dedicated audience, who, although half seated, already has members on its feet. “Oh – and shout out to my Ma and Pa” says vocalist Tom Fleming, adding with a smile: “And if you see them, buy them a drink”.
This electro indie four piece from Kendall work at layering falsetto vocals over dense synth and heavy, electronic rock to generate a sleek and compelling structured sound. They do indeed play this gig like it’s their last, and in true send-off style, a ceremonious confetti canon fires after the interval to mark the occasion.
Highlights of the show include Big Cat, which is thick with the band’s distinctive beating ’80s electronica as Hayden Thorpe’s white shirt bellows to emanate certain Wuthering Heights, simply adding fuel to the dream-like state of intensity throughout the performance. Chris Talbot’s war drums dictate the pace for Wanderlust, and electricity surges through the crowd to command a well deserved standing ovation
At some points in the show the vocals end up swimming in a more generic electronic rock and sea of distorted synths, which is why the more dynamic rock-heavy tracks win round the crowd.
Enter Alpha female. A spotlight guitar solo delivering electrifying riffs further qualifies this as a true standout from their latest album, Boy King, but is arguably trumped by the return of pounding drums which roll through Mecca and root themselves to a pulsing backlight as Hayden Thorpe and Christ Talbot harmonise with celestial choral notes.
Although more strength is found in the older material (and the band know it) the show is defiantly weighted by their passion to deliver a progressive, experimental sound that is entirely unapologetic, and ultimately, values its process over the relief offered to its listener. This is a choice to make music with no boundaries, for no other purpose than to simply create. And you can tell that tonight the band are fully invested in this motive, whilst deeply grateful to the faces that look back at them – a loyal turnout of fans who are equally as connected to their cause. And equally as sad to see them go.
Wild Beasts certainly live up to their namesake. They are capable of generating a raw and primal sound that is one level above intense, and although in some parts an acquired taste, is finely tuned to achieve it’s purpose: stay bold, apologise for nothing, push boundaries and create a uniquely self-carved genre that will outlive it’s 16 years of crafting.
* source: Dazed.com