Wild Beasts – review

Wilton's Music Hall, London

There is dry ice everywhere and a real sense of occasion for this show to support Wild Beasts' third album – their potential commercial breakthrough following the critical triumph of the 2009 album Two Dancers. What with the band's desire to bring lissom white funk back to the charts, the first thing you notice is how uneffete, how indie, they look: their florid ambition does not extend to their image. This has worked in their favour. In a way, Wild Beasts are a Trojan horse: they look normal while reproducing their baroque pop live, enabling them to avoid being dismissed as a studio creation or a novelty act.

Frontman and bassist Hayden Thorpe, he of the extraordinary falsetto, is hardly in wilting mood. "We've been told not to play too loud in case bits of plaster fall off," he announces to the audience in this grade II-listed building. "In all seriousness, fuck that!"

Thorpe's remarkable voice holds up well live, although he reins it in so it does not dominate. In fact, fellow singer Tom Fleming, who employs a huskier register, is equally busy tonight. The crowd are in raptures no matter who is singing. When Lion's Share kicks in, you can almost hear them sigh with relief at the return to prominence of challenging but accessible pop music. Literate but danceable, Reach a Bit Further is like Friendly Fires fronted by Oscar Wilde. And despite its seven minutes of ambient, proggish noise, the third and final encore's title, End Come Too Soon, seems to speak everyone's mind.


Paul Lester

The GuardianTramp

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