10 years on from the release of their first album ‘Strange House’ the Horror’s were back in Liverpool On Sunday, to tour their synth-tinged goth pop 5th album ‘V’. With an uproar after a last minute venue change from the main O2 Academy Room to the 500 capacity space of O2 Academy 2, the anticipation builds for the heirs of goth-gloom pop.
Emerging through the smoke, kitted in black like a young Robert Smith, Faris Badwan mutters “Hello and good evening” before kicking off with the dissonant slow burner, ‘Hologram’ from new album ‘V’. The reverb ignites the whole room into a state of dejected ecstasy, before it is transitioned into ‘Machine’ a favourite of mine from their latest album, a hypnotic and momentous stomper of a song.
The band begin to delve into their past discography, bringing out crowd favourites like fuzzy ‘Who Can Say’ and ‘In and Out Of Sight’ and ‘Mirror’s Image’. You can really hear the emotional sincerity in lead singer Faris Badwan’s voice as he voices the monologue, “And when I told her I didn’t love her anymore, she cried” in ‘Who Can Say’. Arguably their biggest hit to date ‘Sea Within A Sea’ comes midway through the set, the swirling synth loop and the prowling bass line creating a sedating effect, until the incoming pounding synth shocks you back into elevation.
As the retrograde synths kick in, the band finish with their most well-received song of the night ‘Still Life’ from 2011 album Skying, as Badwan exhales that “The moment that you want is coming if you give it time”. The band walk off stage and the crowd do give it time, before they return to the stage to play a finale of ‘Ghost’ and the heartfelt and poignant latest single ‘Something To Remember Me By’.
For a band with such an impressive back-catalogue, the muted setlist can seem somewhat underwhelming, with a predominant focus on the newest album it left many fans around me underwhelmed. “Should have played some of Strange House”, one impressively intoxicated member of the audience expresses, which although true, as a band no longer the gangly teenagers that once appeared on The Mighty Boosh we should let them move forward.
Liverpool’s O2 Academy 2 is probably my least favourite venue in the city, with its suffocating corridor like walls and the problematic stage to floor height, it meant that any more than a quarter of the way back and you were constantly popping your head up like an inquisitive mole. For someone who lacks in height, my view of the band consisted of a jagged outline of limbs and backcombed hair, changing in colour from red to blue to green, every time a different lighting was projected. The lighting itself created an atmosphere of hypnotic gloom, reflective of the band’s whole aesthetic, but sometimes made it impossible to see anything but silhouettes.
Overall, it made it feel like I was listening to a live album in a room full of fans, rather than witnessing an actual Horrors show. Depending on where you were stood this could have been one of your favourite gigs of the year, or your most underwhelming.
Check Out the video for Something To Remember Me By, below.