by / November 21st, 2011 /

M83 – Vancouver

A lot of landmark albums down the years have become synonymous with a location, think Bowie’s Berlin trilogy, The Beatles love-affair with Abbey Road or Justin Vernon’s Wisconsin cabin. For M83’s Anthony Gonzales, it’s the Joshua Tree National Park in California which provided the inspiration for his ambitious double album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. A brave challenge, given the stigma of double albums easily described as drawn out, bloated and over thought. No such problems exist with Hurry Up…, which is destined to be a year-ending list topper, and in ‘Midnight City’ had a shoo-in for single of the year until Lana Del Rey’s seductive ‘Video Games’ appeared.

When the lights go down in Vancouver, we are greeted electronic and cosmic wizardry blasts over the PA. Hurry Up’s. outer space cover star shuffles to the front of the stage, stretching its three fingered hands out into the crowd inviting them on a journey. Lights out again and the familiar shimmering synths of ‘Intro’ reverberate through the room. Minus Zola Jesus’ presence for a backing vocal, Morgan Kibby easily slides in to begin the most impressive performance of the night.

It’s immediately followed with an ’80s love letter combo of ‘Reunion’ and Saturday=Youth highlight ‘Kim & Jessie’. Heavily synth-laden ‘We Own The Sky’ sees an unofficial member of the band, the light show, take centre stage. A warm orange hue glows from pillared light bars, green lasers split the air while amps and cabs are illuminated by electric neon tape, all set against a flickering light constellation in the backdrop.

‘Steve McQueen’ proves a sonic explosion of life-affirmation as the crowd chimes in with Gonzalez “I woke up stronger than ever” against Loic Maurin’s pounding, and robotic in accuracy, drums. ‘Wait’ offers a brief and sombre respite before ‘This Bright Flash’ clangs and crashes over a wave of distorted guitars.

And then ‘Midnight City’ drops, it’s something we’ve imagined live since it took its place on constant repeat this summer. In our minds, the crowd escalates to a frenzied fever pitch, Judd Nelson is getting kicked out for huffing ludes, Anthony Michael Hall is trying to steal a kiss from Molly Ringwald in the corner, the two Coreys are crowd surfing and momentarily share a high five while floating in a mass of hands and just as the aural euphoria becomes almost too much to bear, Tim Capello struts on stage, unleashing a furious assault on his saxophone. It doesn’t quite play out like that, but it does get the best reaction of the night.

An almost evangelic ‘My Tears Are Becoming A Sea’ brings the night crashing to a heavenly crescendo before encore, ‘Couleurs’ sees Gonzalez and co. take a rare break to enjoy the moment during a gargantuan jam of rib-shattering bass tones, vocoder hooks and clutters of cowbells before an abrupt finish leaving us dreaming of more.

Photo via Sonic Itch.