by / November 19th, 2010 /

Klaxons – HMV Forum, London

Epileptics beware, these guys are not for the faint hearted. If a trio of silhouetted scarecrows stampeding onstage wasn’t enough of an experience, the light show that follows for the rest of the evening certainly batters its way into the brain. Masked in tribal outfits it’s hard to pay attention to the hectic noise rumble of ‘Flashover’ when it looks like Jamie Reynolds has just donned a carrot-topped woolly ski mask and will be carrying out a home invasion.

So if it’s all about catching our attention then they most certainly have. Thankfully, it’s not just interesting costumes and pigtails (that’s just the one on the right), tonight’s electro-rock extravaganza gives a fair hearing to both debut album and current material. Early singles such as ‘Magick’ and ‘Golden Skans’ hit the spot with the Skins-esque members of the crowd who show their appreciation with pint-throwing and poorly organised moshing, while the rest of the crowd content themselves with dancing singalongs. Half-way through ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ the track appears to stop. Amidst smatterings of clapping, there’s silence. Is it over? God, that was short. It’s been a few years since that one was on the radio but surely it was longer? Down at the front however, an enthusiastic group of fans have figured it out – this is their time to shine. As the song picks up once again, the audience provides the chant. And as the guitars churn for ‘As Above, So Below’, searing white light flashes before the chorus like part of some scientific experiment.

But this isn’t 2006 anymore Toto and while ‘Surfing The Void’ might not necessarily have been the album Klaxons hoped to release, from the performance tonight we can be glad that they did. Sure there are a few duds – ‘Cypherspeed’ and ‘Surfing The Void’ for example, the former simply unexceptional; the latter a clashing high-pitched filler – but there are also some gems that have the same kick in the auditorium as they do on the CD. Space-rock love poem ‘The Same Space’ has a sweet stomping intensity but, like ‘Valley of the Calm Trees’ and ‘Venusia’, receives a less raucous reception, more for unfamiliarity than for lack of skill. And the soaring, light vocals of ‘Echoes’ sound even more other-worldly in the darkness.

In the obligatory encore, it’s time to pay tribute to the days of nu-rave (except we don’t use that bad word anymore round here) with a screeching rendition of ‘It’s Not Over Yet’ and the genre’s theme tune, ‘Atlantis to Interzone’.

How seriously we should be taking it is never quite clear – after all, they rock out those rhythms with all the determination and straight-faced concentration in the world, but one of them looks like he’s dressed as Fred Flinstone. Still, after a performance like that, State’s not really sure if we care. Fun, flamboyant rock. Likelihood of band turning into overdramatized Muse-esque divas? We won’t bet against it just yet.

Picture from Flickr.

  • great review generally Louise (can’t wait to see Klaxons in Dublin next week), but quick question… where does the ‘Muse as divas’ thing come from? I’ve met Matt Bellamy and he’s really down to earth, and the only thing even slightly ‘diva-ish’ about them that I’ve seen is the insistence on throwing loads of instrumental bridges into their sets (brilliant IMO) and the slightly stupid clothing…correct me if I’m wrong? Probably the bias of a huge Muse fan there, but still…

  • ML

    After last night’s Klaxons gig, I *think* I understand Louise’s Muse/diva comment. There’s something very similar about the two bands live; their concerts are bombastic, proper shows rather than one-dimensional indie gigs. Diva-esque in a good way.
    Never thought I’d say this, but I’m very impressed with Klaxons’ musicianship! Compared to their shambolic performance at Glastonbury some years ago, the band now sounds solid – they must have spent the 3-year gap learning to play 😀

  • Lou Firefish

    I’m only getting your comment now, James…

    I use divas as a description of the grandiose, showband style that diva generally used to mean, rather than the dramatic, moany irritant that we now see it as.

  • Lou Firefish

    I should say that I love the over-the-top Muse-esque thing. If Klaxons mutate into that, I’ll be sad only because it means that I’ll never get to see them in a small/medium venue again (i.e. how I feel about Muse!).