Editors | Brixton Academy | 14 November 2013
Bands, they say, are greater than the sum of their parts. But Chris Urbanowicz’s departure has changed Editors. Most obviously, their latest album is more REM than Joy Division. And tonight, the angular guitar riffs of their biggest hits sound blunted.
It doesn’t matter. The more fluid playing style of his replacements – guitarist Justin Lockey and multi-instumentalist Elliott Williams – brings a cohesion to the set, the back catalogue’s oppressive gloom complemented by the expansive, Americana-tinged new songs.
It’s one of those, the open-road groove ‘Sugar’, that soundtracks the arrival of five silhouettes onto a stage awash with blue and purple light. The figures lurking in the gloom could really be anyone but, as soon as the figure stalking upfront opens his mouth, there’s no mistaking Tom Smith’s rumbling voice. And it’s not much longer before the singer, his twisting hands casting spindly shadow puppets, is standing hunched on the monitors, bellowing out of the darkness.
By the third song, a searing ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors’, the lights are brighter and the strobes faster, but the effect no less emotional. During the synth-heavy ‘Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool’ (cue red lightning, of course), the frontman paces as if trapped by an invisible cage, clasping the microphone like his life depends on it, then sitting down to pound on an upright piano – and standing on top of it, ready to pounce. It’s all quite feral.
The group briefly dial back the drama, channelling ‘Joshua Tree’-era U2 on new tune ‘Two Hearted Spider’ and breezing through ‘You Don’t Know Love’, before ‘All Sparks’ reignites the fuse once more. A series of increasingly intense performances – including fiery breakout hits ‘Bullets’ and ‘Munich’ and a return to the piano precipice – climaxes with a ferocious ‘Papillon’. Starting out against a backdrop of sinister synths and metronomic drums, the set closer becomes a turmoil of vocal echoes, guitar distortion, and the audience shouting the words “we’ll find our own way home somehow”. Without Urbanowicz, Editors have done just that.