Editors + British Sea Power @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – Saturday 16th November 2013

Editors + British Sea Power @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – Saturday 16th November 2013Editors + British Sea Power @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – Saturday 16th November 2013Editors + British Sea Power @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – Saturday 16th November 2013Editors + British Sea Power @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – Saturday 16th November 2013Editors + British Sea Power @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – Saturday 16th November 2013

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En route to tonight’s near to sell out show, it suddenly dawned on me that this is as close to a homecoming show as Editors get. Rather selfishly, my feeble brain starts to calculate, with some dread, the length of the inevitable congregation of parasites -me included- scrambling for guest list tickets. Sure enough, it is far longer than any other queue that I have had the pleasure of being a part of. Five minutes until support band, British Sea Power take to the stage, and I am still sixth in line.

Whilst waiting to offer up justification as to why I should be allowed entry without paying the cover charge, other than the usual desperate scenarios that play out in my head – usually centring around the humiliation should my request be met with a revelling shake of the head by the already beleaguered box office assistant – out of nowhere pops the story of Dr Alex.

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In the glorious ‘Do It For Your Mum’, the memoir by British Sea Power’s ex-manager, and brother to lead vocalists Hamilton and Yan, Roy Wilkinson recounts the time when at Birmingham’s Barfly in 2006, armed with two Stella Artois ice buckets –one on his head and the other under the control of his right foot- he made his way on stage for the culmination of British Sea Power’s show. Wilkinson’s arrival on stage signalled the departure of one of the ice buckets from it, propelled not by sea power, but by the far more recognisable good old right-footed punt. Unfortunately for Dr Alex, a medical student enjoying the action from the “safety” of the crowd, her face provided the cushioned landing spot for the bucket. The reason for my slight transgression here is that following this accident; Dr Alex is now on the band’s Birmingham guest list for life. I wonder then, if Dr Alex is here tonight. She may even be stood next to me. Indeed, just how many in the queue for guest list tickets are here for Editors, and not just to recoup another free night at the expense of British Sea Power and their, correction: their brother / ex-manager’s stage antics.

British Sea Power emerge from the recesses of the academy, and assemble themselves amongst their almost always foliage strewn instruments. They open to the already packed room with ‘Remember Me’, which was recently voted number nine in the BBC 6 Top 100 songs released since 2002 – nestled between Johnny Cash’s ‘Hurt’ and Radiohead’s ‘There There’ – not bad company at all. The band offer up a tremendous set and are afforded a significant amount of time with which the whip the audience into frenzy before the headliners take the reigns. The set dips in and out of the bands catalogue compiled over the last decade. ‘Carrion’, always a firm favourite bleeds into ‘All In It’ as the band depart, having played for just over some forty-five minutes.

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Editors make a hugely anticipated return to the city that bore them, and to the O2 Academy, which they opened back in 2009. The band arrives off the back of a flurry of dates across continental Europe, where their popularity is such, that they regularly play to packed arenas. Thankfully, the downsizing of venue is the only scaling back for tonight as both band and crowd launch at each other during the bass enthused opener ‘Sugar’.

The difference between support and headliner is always apparent. It is usually down to the reluctance for the support band to be given the full gambit of accoutrements that add that extra sparkle to a performance. Those are the rules of show business. However, tonight, the difference between British Sea Power and Editors is more of a chasm. This is by no way a slur upon British Sea Power. The chasm does not represent whether one band is superior, it just highlights that there are significant differences between the two. Editors exude a slickness that British Sea Power do not, however, British Sea Power are able to write a haunting lament about an Iceberg, which Editors would struggle to pull off with such integrity.

The O2 Academy appears to have a hearty appetite for both forms of rock n’ roll. The wholly familiar ‘Someone Says’ is next on the Editors set list, followed by ‘Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors’. The crowd are enraptured, spurred onwards by Tom Smith’s peculiar spasms between exhalations. Though the band plough through many favourites from across their wealth of material, the bulk of this evenings set is lifted from the latest album ‘The Weight of Your Love’. ‘Two Hearted Spider’ picks up where ‘Sugar’ left off, and ‘Formaldehyde’ is simply epic. The “Bunneymen” influenced ‘A Ton of Love’ showcases Smith’s faultless voice, which manages to stay prevalent over the thunderous instrumentation being provided by the relatively new five-piece.

Editors are a band that appear to have been revitalised following the well-documented line-up changes. Rarely have I witnessed a crowd hold its momentum for the duration of a show, but the Birmingham audience’s endurance is impressive. Credit has to be given to Editors who appear to have slipped in the back door to the “biggest band in the world” party whilst nobody was looking. They are not there yet, but they appear to demonstrate a thirst to be bigger and better, learning from their experiences and growing. Editors construct a truly epic show, and certainly know how to build and lower the momentum throughout. The penultimate performance of ‘Nothing’ is testament to this. The audience are permitted a moment to compose themselves before their heart rate is thrust to the higher echelons once more during the closing number ‘Papillion’.

Review by Chris Curtis

Photographs by Ian Dunn

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