Editors @ o2 Academy, 19 October 2018

It’s a misnomer that Editors are a Birmingham band as none of the members, past or present, hail from Brum. The original line up met whilst at Staffs University and they lived in Moseley and cut their teeth in their formative years playing the Jug of Ale and the Flapper and Firkin. Therefore we claim them as our own and they are happy to call Brum their adopted home. So this was their home gig.  A packed Academy was there to greet them and you could feel the warmth from both sides throughout.

It’s been an up and down relationship for me since they bounded into the big time in 2005 with the still brilliant The Back Room. My love affair continued with An End Has a Start and the addition of synth on In This Light and On This Evening kept my interest further. However, the love affair was on the wane by the time The Weight of Your Love arrived despite the epic Sugar being amongst it. I confess that In Dream then passed me by and they no longer had a place at my musical top table.

Until April this year that is, when they released Violence. For me this was a return to form. A brilliant marriage of their early dark and brooding indie that brought them their first success and the later synth pop sound that the band had weaved into their music post An End Has a Start. I was hooked again.

A pretty sweaty and crammed Academy was waiting for them. Not exactly warmed up by the very talented but rather downbeat support act Talos. A thumping dance beat played before the band hit the stage to build things back up nicely and a tumultuous reception greeted them. They opened with The Boxer.  A slow burning brooding song that showcases Tom Smith’s superb vocals, seemingly recovered from his recent illness that saw a gig cancelled the week before.

Sugar followed, a haunting marriage of old and new Editors. Not sure how a song with lyrics like ” it breaks my heart to love you” can be so uplifting but it brings the first goosebumps of the evening as Tom begins to own the stage with his theatrical presence. Hallelujah (So Low) was the first new song to be showcased. Muse like with its powerful and heavy chorus. It’s clear that I am not the only one in the room to have embraced the new album, given the reception it received.

Time for some old faves like All Sparks and An End Has a Start which ratchets the atmosphere up higher before more from Violence, Darkness at the Door. If ever a song showed how much Editors have evolved down the years from The Back Room, this is it. Starting out sounding like 80’s pop before leading to a chorus that wouldn’t be out of place at a Take That gig. Not sure Tom would appreciate that comparison mind you!

To counterweight the pop overload, Belong is played to remind everyone where they first came from. That’s the beauty of the new album. It looks forward and back. It manages to sound fresh but nostalgic at the same time. In less skilled hands this could sound confused but not with Editors. This is perfectly summed up by the lead track of the album, Violence. Dark lyrics that you come to expect. “Baby we’re nothing but violence. Desperate, so desperate and fearless, Mess me around ’til my heart breaks” The song morphing into a heavy and uplifting dance beat completely juxtaposed to the earlier dark lyrics. Utterly stunning.

The gig rattled along at a fair old pace. A mixture of new ( the superb Nothingness) and old with Blood and a powerful and pulsing Papillon before a short break. The encore started with Cold, with Tom’s vocals sending shivers down the spine once again. Racing Rats saw the stage lose power but a 5 minute enforced break sorted it out and they came back to restart the classic to an adoring crowd. Munich and the sublime Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors brings things to a close after almost 2 hours that seemed to fly by.

This was a triumphant return to Brum for the band. Beautifully paced throughout. The band clearly loving every minute, especially when they played the new songs to such a great reception. The band have never been afraid to push themselves and evolve. This makes their gigs such a joy. A varied back catalogue that covers so much ground and sound. 16 years as a band, yet on this evidence, they are currently better than ever.

Reviewer: Rich Jefferson

Photographer: Ian Dunn

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