Who’s got two thumbs and loves being in a band? Bassist Russell Leetch is who, but more about that later. Two superb albums, and two mediocre albums, yet Editors returned recently with a full-form stormer in their new fifth album ‘In Dream’. And a dream indeed to have one of the first shows of the tour on a glistening Saturday in a sold-out Olympia.
A stage stripped to an industrial lights-and-concrete look, and a band clad in black, they begin, as is the current wont, with the new album opener – the Nick-Cavian ‘No Harm’. Tom Smith twists around the mic and his own words while the sound engineer pushes everything up, trying to salvage Smith’s vocals in the mix. As they drop into The Weight of your Love’s middling ‘Sugar’, he just about manages it. The warm-up takes us on a plotted tour of all the albums, falling back into the solid new (‘Forgiveness’) and the still-hot old (‘Blood’). Smith is carving his idiosyncratic path around the front of the stage and the other four retain a cool composure for the most, though some audience-goading clap-in-time is creeping in.
Watershed: ‘The Racing Rats’ sees Smith at his twisting best around the piano and Justin Lockey slicing in a high-pitched guitar of pure Editors DNA. One of the best peaks and breaks in recent rock times, “Come on, *crash* now *crash*, you knew you were lost…” just pounds you and it’s perfect.
There are weak incursions back to the previous album (you could pick 10+ tracks to better replace ‘Nothing’) and yet more clap-along goading. Leetch is clearly having a blast, and is smiling incessantly but the constant thumbs-aloft is from a different era unbecoming of this black-clad electro-tinted rock mood. It is also the constant breaking of a fourth wall and it’s turning the detachment you need for that fully absorbing performance into a come-all-ye Kodaline moment.
And then you’re blindsided by the new stuff again. Cloaked in strobing white, the slow-mo future gothic of ’Salvation’ is both barrels to the chest, and people are turning to each other after it mouthing “fking hell”.
An acoustic ‘Smokers…’ gives the wall of sound a break, and it works surprisingly well (though we feel we were denied one of the pounding big ones in full glory) and ‘Munich’ is thankfully un-fuck-up-able. And yet the new tracks keep shining through, despite their youth. A souped-up piano line that could have been carved from a Donna Summer disco quarry brings ‘Ocean of Night’. A beefed up dance gift, that delivers a bonus break right in the middle that legitimately calls for handclaps, albeit complex ones. And it steals the show. The Brad Fidel-esque ‘Papillion’ is the electro-pop stomper to see us right, and the new album’s closer takes us to the finish.
Musically, everything is in its right place, though predictably so. Some missed exclusions (‘Escape the Nest’, and the new gem of a duet with Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, ‘The Law’) left us clawing for more. The clap-happy cheer of a delighted band should have been a good thing to enjoy, but perhaps we just need a bit of that rock facade of cool to elevate the performance. Somewhere on stage in the Olympia on Saturday were the ghosts of Suede saying “keep your fucking thumbs down”. But when Editors went big on this night, we didn’t want to go home.
Editors photographed for State by Olga Kuzmenko