Editors: It kicks like a sleep twitch

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.

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The National: You must be somewhere in London

The National | Alexandra Palace | 13 November 2013

Matt Berninger needs time to warm up. Dressed in suit and tie, the bearded-and-bespectacled National frontman looks like a socially awkward university lecturer as he nervously paces to-and-fro. The gulps of red wine from a plastic cup only reinforce the impression.

But by the encore he’s been swallowed up by the crowd, raging “Mr November, I won’t fuck us over” somewhere amongst the first few rows, without a thought for the roadie desperately wrangling the microphone cord.

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Arcade Fire: Here comes the night time

Arcade Fire | The Roundhouse | 11 November 2013

The rumours start in the queue outside. David Bowie will be joining the band on backing vocals. LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy is DJ for the night. And Jesse from ‘Breaking Bad’ will probably be in the crowd – he’s been begging his Twitter followers for tickets.

Of course, none of this turns out to be true. But nobody cares. They’re just here to see Arcade Fire play songs from their brand new (Murphy-produced, Bowie-featuring) album, in the relative intimacy of The Roundhouse.

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Peter Gabriel: Hear that voice again

Peter Gabriel | The O2 Arena | 22 October 2013

Peter Gabriel has ditched the tricks. That giant inflatable Zorb ball, the suspending himself upside down from the stage, and that lumpy-blob-with-inflatable-genitals costume from the ’70s are long gone, but he’s lost none of the showmanship.

Take his ongoing Back to Front tour. Ostensibly celebrating the 25th anniversary of the album ‘So’, this is no straightforward nostalgia act. He’s gone to the effort of rounding up the same musicians he took out on the road back in 1987. He’s recreated the era’s moody staging, complete with the craned lights that glide ominously across the stage, interacting with the band members like giant mechanical stagehands. And he’s buried the evening’s centrepiece, the collection of nine songs that gave us ‘Sledgehammer’ and ‘Don’t Give Up’, in a set that’s not exactly big on hits.

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White Lies: this fear’s got a hold on me

White Lies | Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen | 24 July 2013

The last time White Lies played London, they sold out Wembley Arena. Now, just 18 months later, the trio are performing to 300 people in a bar. But this downsizing isn’t due to a Glasvegas-style career collapse – for the launch of their third album, the band have gone back to where it all began five years ago.

And, judging from the new songs showcased tonight, returning to the site of their first gig is more than just a PR stunt: after the over-polished sheen of 2010’s radio-baiting ‘Ritual’, ‘Big TV’ sounds like a concerted back to basics record.

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Bon Jovi: These days the stars are out of reach

Bon Jovi | Hyde Park | 5 July 2013

Will he? Won’t he? Ever since abruptly – and mysteriously – quitting Bon Jovi back in April, Richie Sambora’s appearance at the inaugural British Summer Time festival has been in doubt. The ongoing public spat with Jon Bon Jovi – “Hire the Edge,” he suggested after the frontman praised U2’s guitarist – didn’t bode well. Nor did his comment to The Sun earlier this week: “I am not going to be on stage at Hyde Park sadly. It’s just not happening right now.”

Yet, right until the band step out, there are murmurings of buried hatchets and a surprise appearance.

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Muse: Time is running out

Muse | Emirates Stadium | 26 May 2013

It’s only fitting that Muse’s stage backdrop is a power station. The band earned an estimated £23-million last year alone. They’re a global industry, selling out stadiums from Tokyo to Buenos Aires on their current world tour.

London is no different, Arsenal’s home ground filled to capacity for the second consecutive day of overwrought rock anthems presented with all the subtlety of Liberace.

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