Oxford natives Glass Animals are slightly overwhelmed by the adoration shown to them by the Academy crowd tonight. Having only played in Ireland once before, they seem genuinely thrilled by the heaving, undulating sea of faces that stands before them; faces taking photographs of the band, of themselves, of themselves looking at the band, of themselves looking at themselves looking surprised to have found themselves in front of the band… “People say this all the time but this really is the one of the best crowds we’ve ever played to”, gushes front-man Dave Bayley. Shoeless and dancing like a drunk uncle, Bayley is the archetypal Indie-new-wave popstar whose ostensible awkwardness on-stage is every bit as endearing as the music he is responsible for while his band busy themselves with the sound. Impressively they manage to maintain a constant, almost under-water feel to their music, all the while switching between keys, guitars and bass.
His band of friends have only released one album, the critically lauded Zaba, so the setlist is as familiar to the crowd as you can get. The roars of approval for familiar strains such as that of ‘Black Mambo’, ‘Gooey’ and ‘Hazey’ are matched only by the sing-along refrains which somehow incorporate Pooh bear, peanut butter and the beach. When Bayley finally gives in and jumps into the crowd they, unsurprisingly, mob him and the merry dance of photographing themselves using whatever melee of flailing limbs going on at that particular time as a backdrop begins again. Bayley’s band-mates are less inclined to engage like this but their interplay is nonetheless there to be seen. These lads are very clearly comfortable on stage and their playing is all the better for it; no stutters and no blips – just seamless, soulful and woozily encapsulating. They smile at each other and react to each crowd pop, making a very nice change from the veneer of detached coolness that many of their peers try to keep. They are kind of geeky in all the right measures.
Ending their set with a well deserved encore, the band’s cover of Kanye’s ‘Love Lockdown’ is a revelation, it suits their playing and shows an ability to interpret music – despite not being that massive a leap from their own playing style in the first place. The four lads have a remarkably distinct sound for so few players and as the heat increases among the crowds and the intensity grows over the course of the night they can rest assured that their return to Ireland at this Summer’s Longitude festival will be a markedly well deserved step up.
Glass Animals were photographed exclusively for State.ie by Kieran Frost.