‘I have to apologise, I really haven’t been singing well tonight’ claimed Tom Smith, lead singer of brit-rock band Editors as their set came to a close at the Sheffield Academy on Thursday. Though it seemed unlikely that many of the attendees agreed, it was obvious that the band’s turn toward the electronic was more contentious than Smith’s singing ability.
After the release of their third album, this once ‘Interpol’-inspired rock band has shed that particular skin and have mutated away from the guitar in favour of the synthesiser.
The band opened by emerging from a wall of smoke, barely lit, and breaking into new song ‘In This Light and On This Evening’, the opening track of their third and most recent album of the same name. The song, atypical of their new electro rock direction, kicked off the evening with a dark brooding introduction, swelling beats and monotone lyrics. The band then broke into a frenzied drum-driven and synth jam, launching their main set with the classic ‘Bullets’ from their 2006 Mercury Prize Nominated debut album ‘The Back Room’. This was followed by ‘Racing Rats’ and ‘Fall’ from their first two album releases.
The following two tracks were unquestionably the most stand out of the entire set. Both taken from the new album, they embodied where the Editors are heading. The first ‘Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool’ was a dramatic drum driven track, with Smith on the keyboard alongside guitarist Chris Urbanowicz, the only string being bass – a brave move for a guitar band and it worked well. Next up was ‘The Big Exit’, their performance dripping with mystique and atmosphere. Fast paced keyboard, slow pounding drum beats and falsetto vocals made it feel like something plucked right out of the 80’s, the four musicians were utterly possessed by their new sound.
Sadly this transformation only lasted two songs and much to the relief of the ‘Play-What-We-Know’ crowd, the Editors pumped out ‘Lights’, driven by a similar funk to the previous two tunes but lacking the same magic. When the band launched into one of their most renowned songs ‘Smokers Outside Hospital Doors’ the crowd went mad. Their main set was wrapped up with ‘Bricks and Mortar’ a beautiful electronica anthem.
After a brief interlude the band returned on stage to play ‘Walk The Fleet Road’ a swelling synth track with beautiful lyrics – much more epic and grand than expected from the gloom-and-doom Editors of old. After classic track, ‘Munich’, the band segued into newest single ‘Papillion’, which bridged the gap between older and newer styles better than anything so far. The set finished with ‘Fingers in Factories’ an archetypal Editors song that had the entire audience leaping around.
So was the evening a success? Difficult to say. The songs were varied and innovative, but nothing outstanding. Maybe it was the crowd’s unfamiliarity with the newer tracks or the lack of real interaction between the band and the fans. Perhaps it just boiled down to the familiar dissonance between studio and live performances. An enjoyable evening, but nothing exceptional.