Editors @ Town Hall 4 March, 2018

After negotiating the maze that has become Birmingham City Centre, I finally arrived at the Town Hall. I’ve never been to a gig here so was very interested in embracing this experience. It felt a very civilised affair from the start, almost like going to the theatre with a seat in the circle and a great view of the stage. The sound in the Town Hall is incredible, and it suited both the bands that played tonight – giving their music the epic acoustics that it deserved.

I think that Editors may have been the first ever band that I reviewed back when Birmingham Live was in its infancy. I’ve seen them grow from their early incarnation as Snowfield (Kid Captain, who I drummed for supported them a few times) to a band that have headlined festivals. It’s surprising that this is the first time they’ve played the Town Hall in their adopted hometown, but they quickly multiplied in popularity that venues of this size became unrealistic I guess. WIth a crowd size of approximately 650, this was certainly a very intimate show for the band who are about to release their 6th studio album Violence next Friday.

Support came from October Drift; a band that I must have heard before as they were on my saved artist’s list on Spotify. Formed in 2015 they’ve had a few single releases and an EP so far. Their tracks seamlessly connected throughout their set. There was something distinctly noughties about the sound that this four-piece created. Interestingly they reminded me of Editors in parts; if Editors had sounded more like bands from the post-hardcore emo genre.

Stand out tracks from their set included Cherry Red and a track that I think was called Lost. You can find them on streaming platforms, and I recommend that you give them a listen.

Tonight indeed did affirm how far Editors have come since their debut release in 2005. Their music has evolved and matured over time to create a blend of sounds giving them something unique. I was captivated by the wonderfully complex and almost poetic movements that lead singer Tom Smith crafted during each of the songs. His voice has developed and got better with time, and the acoustics in the venue led themselves ideally to the creation of beautiful noise.

The Grade 1 listed building with its beautiful concert pipe organ (although shrouded by a black backdrop) seemed truly fitting for the band to open with current single “Hallelujah (So Low)” lifted from their new album set for release on Friday. Initially, I thought that it would be a set full of new material, but the blend of early and more recent material was perfect. They delivered a total of 21 tracks (yes I said 21) throughout the 1hr 45min set, yes the band treated the crowd to a few new tracks which the crowd heard for the first time, so were unknown. However, the anticipation of this new material was enough. Aside from the already released two tracks (which some people already knew all the words to), three others grabbed my attention. “Darkness at the Door”, “Violence” and “Nothingness” all showed that the new record is going to be something extraordinary indeed.

The dramatic layers of sound that appear in their more recent material means that when they go back to the more raw music of their first two records, there is a distinct charm and elegance. Of course, these tracks were very much crowd pleasers. Blood, Munich (also known as the hernia song in our household -if you know the lyrics you’ll understand this) and Lights (not played live for a few years now) all featured from the debut album. With An End Has A Start, Racing Rats and the lovely acoustic version of Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors from their sophomore record.

I have to admit since their third album (an almost perfect tribute to 80s science fiction films) I’ve not focussed on their material enough and that was clear tonight. But what was also clear was why hadn’t I given them the attention that they deserve? The songs had multiple layers of harmonic driven electro-rock; a sound that filled the venue from front to back and made people stand up and notice. I was pleased to hear my favourite tracks from In This Light and On This Evening make the setlist, but the song that stood out for me was a track from 2015’s album In Dream and main set ender. Ocean of Night began with an acoustic start and my gosh it was a “hairs on the back of your neck” moment for me, and as the track built the venue became more and more aroused until the final climax, where drummer Ed Lay gave an epic drum solo and got nearly everyone out of their seat.

I’ve already mentioned the perfection that was the acoustic version of Smokers which started the encore, but with The Racing Rats, Papillon and Marching Orders all featuring this was an encore for the fans, and one where they wanted to create as much of an impact as when they first took to the stage. With one final bow, this intimate experience concluded.

Tonight was a set for the real fan, an experience that they will remember forever. We may have been given our marching orders but this evening cemented Editors in the rock and roll history that surrounds the artists that have played the Town Hall. With an upcoming European and US tour together with some festival dates and support for The Cure at Hyde Park, this isn’t the last that we will hear from them this year and I’m looking forward to Friday with great anticipation.

Set List

Hallelujah (So Low)
A Ton of Love
Darkness at the Door
No Harm
An End Has A Start
In This Light and on This Evening
Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool
Ocean of Night

Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors
The Racing Rats
Marching Orders

Reviewer: Imran Khan

Photographer: Ian Dunn

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