By Jonathan Hatchman
One of the country’s finest alternative outfits to have exploded in to the public eye across the past ten years, The Horrors returned to their East London roots for a relatively intimate show at The Troxy to play a career spanning set and bring their long-awaited UK jaunt to a close. Eloquently gracing the stage of the 2,600 capacity venue, shrouded within a voluminous cloud of smoke that proved even potent enough to trigger the Art Deco cinema’s retro fire bells, and with a light show that could rival Blackpool illuminations. Spotlighting frontman Faris Badwan, sporadically emerging through the ambient haze, clad with a pair of trademark drainpipe jeans and a flamboyant skin-tight PVC T-shirt, just ahead of his musical cohorts who were almost blurred into the set’s background. Melodically swooning into a woozy rendition of ‘Casting Shadows’, the opener to the band’s fourth studio album, Luminous, released back in May. A remarkably well-received long-player effort, following the band’s 2011 masterpiece, Skying – that propelled the small-time gang of Londoners into the globe’s gargantuan mainstream.
Other additions to the show’s thirteen song set list of neo-noir classics included further new material with tracks such as ‘In and Out of Sight’, ‘Sleepwalk’ and ‘Change Your Mind’, not forgetting recent singles ‘I See You’ and ‘So Now You Know’ with it’s omnipotent stadium sized chorus. Meanwhile older cuts such as sophomore album Primary Colours’ ‘Scarlet Fields’, ‘Mirrors Image’ and a deeply improvised ‘Sea Within A Sea’ also managed to receive a live airing, despite the continuing expansion of The Horrors’ already fulfilling back-catalogue. All before closing with fan-favourite from Skying, ‘Moving Further Away’, a grand compositional beast that encroaches upon the nine-minute mark, performed with all of the technicalities that appear on the original album recording. Climatic build-ups of guitar and synth textures with artistic intricacies almost as vivid as frontman Badwan’s artistic sideline of dark, illustrious sketches.
Unfortunately marred slightly by the often ghoulish Saturday night crowd comprised of pockets of attendees more entranced by a self-fixation. With the waxed curls in their Poirot moustaches or unmissable lipstick pigments. Seeming too obsessively conscious and narcissistic to let go and be seen to show any signs of pleasure or enjoyment, projecting a sea of mourning facial expressions, right the way through until the final encore.
But even without the raucous crowd participation that was witnessed through the band’s earlier shows, circa their ‘punkier’, more abrasive soundscape of early years. It’s clear that the band have matured significantly since the days of their underground roots upon the Southend and trendy East-end circuit. And as the prodigious quintet and enigmatic live act continue to progress it’s clear that, like a bottle of fine wine, The Horrors only manage to get better with age.