It’s a late one in the Button Factory. Midnight doors for a 1am gig start seemed like a great bank holiday Sunday idea until Saturday night got the better of us, and it feels like we may never see our beds as we force down a few ales. The newly opened Crowbar at the front of the venue is an assortment of various Halloween-costumed Red Riding Hoods, etc. either en route somewhere else, or just hanging out in the spirit of the night ,and it has the air of a more relaxed Mos Eisley Cantina while DJs from Mother club play out in one corner.
Back in the main hall the man who is essentially Washed Out, Ernest Green, and his live troupe finally arrive on stage a little after one. While not quite a sell-out the boisterous energy of the 20-or-so people in the front row make up for it, and it’s a no-brainer that Greene plays mainly to them for most of the gig and receives energy and adulation in return.
New album Paracosm’s opener ‘It All Feels Right’ is a nice way to start, sounding warm and beachy. We are momentarily thrown by the set-up which consists of an acoustic guitar and a very regular band arrangement belying the more home-grown analogue-but-programmed sounds we had assumed it to be comprised of. As we continue, it’s clear that all the sounds that Greene has created have been souped up for the live setting, in many cases sounding like a boosted-tempo remix of the originals.
It’s the last night of the tour and Greene is enjoying this immensely, goading the frontlines into singing and clapping, jumping out from behind his instruments and beaming like a kid. The new album isn’t given prominence, and still the biggest moments come from 2011’s Within and Without.
The sound is much louder than necessary and despite being well mixed it punches too hard losing the subtleties of the intimate sound Washed Out have on record. When we reach ‘Amor Fati’ it doesn’t fall around us like a blanket but hits us like a furnace. It still sounds great but a lot of detailed magic is missing. There also doesn’t seem to be room in the very short set tonight for the more swoony songs such as ‘Weightless’, sadly.
That said, the turbo-boost is working wonders on the more passionate crowd up the front and it’s pure bliss in itself to look at these guys lose themselves in it, never seeming under the influence of much more than the music. It’s barely 50 minutes before a band with four albums bring the curtain down.
Some nights you have to trust the eyes, ears and jerky dance moves of a bunch who have tapped into a more forgiving and righteous vein of an evening. On other nights we have been those soldiers so, through them, an air-punching gig, a strong and bold live variant by a man who defined recent chillwave sounds. A perhaps brave live step, and one suited to a bank holiday Sunday. If it was all a bit blunt in parts, we have his intimate and intricate albums to go home and wind down to anyhow.