Wild Beasts – Albert Hall, Manchester – 26/03/14

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Wild Beasts are a band who are slightly growing and evolving their sound with each record that they release.  The likes of ‘Wanderlust’ and the closing couple of minutes on track ‘Daughters’ are moments that possibly wouldn’t have come into existence pre Present Tense. With that in mind, the live show is evolving as well, growing in stature as the group themselves grow in popularity.

This was the fifth time that I’ve seen the group over the last few years and although there was a few of the old favourites missing from the set, this occasion was certainly the most accomplished that I’ve seen the boys from Kendal.  The stage set up differed to previous times, with vocalists Hayden and Tom no longer facing each other when at their respective set of keys, as well as having a half segmented half moon set up behind them that lit up in all kinds of different colours.  More effort had been put into the light show as well and with the inclusion of lasers (yes, LASERS) the effects rather enhanced the show.

The gig took place in my new favourite venue, the Albert Hall, and for the first time I took to the balcony to watch the show and got a greater appreciation for the place.  One of the benefits of the venue is that no matter how far away you end up being from the stage, you’re still close enough for it to not be an issue.   It’s also worth noting that the sound was perhaps even greater up there as well.

Fan favourite ‘Reach a Bit Further’ began the set and wasn’t without it’s teething problems.  The reverb was pretty bad and the vocals far too quiet, but thankfully it was all resolved within a couple of songs.  Once sorted, the venue gave further evidence as to why it should be the number one place for bands of a more atmospheric nature.  During the track ‘A Dog’s Life’ from the latest album Present Tense, drummer Chris Talbot, lets his drum stick bounce off the snare a couple of times during one the albums more quiet moments and it was recreated perfectly here, harnessing the acoustics that the venue offers and giving me some pretty major goosebumps.

The audience were told a comical story by Tom of when the band had played at the Roadhouse in Manchester a number of years ago, where once they had all arrived at the venue they discovered a poster of themselves on the wall outside with the scrawling ‘Are Shit’ underneath the name of the quartet.  This led into ‘The Devil’s Crayon’ from debut release Limbo, Panto and was extremely well received by the crowd.

Although the set was filled with highlights, it was the last few songs and encore that really stood out.  ‘Bed of Nails’ was the real big highlight for me and encore opener ‘Wanderlust’ had the audience baying for more.  A huge percentage of the venue were up and dancing during the performance from the biggest hit of the band, ‘All the King’s Men’, joining in unison to sing the opening “Ooooohh’s” of the track and ‘Lion’s Share’ kept the positive energy within the room going.

As the band brought the encore to its end with the final seven and a half minute epic track from Smother, ‘End Come Too Soon’, the entire venue was brought to its feet, enthusiastically applauding and cheering the performance that Wild Beasts had just delivered.  The band stayed on stage for a minute or so after placing their instruments down to thank the crowd and to drink in the acclaim they were receiving and nobody would begrudge them for doing so, they had thoroughly deserved it.

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