Show Review & Photos: WILD BEASTS, Live in Atlanta

Hayden Thorpe began Wild Beasts‘ set at the Variety Playhouse with just his voice – naked and exposed. As he began crooning the lines of Smother‘s opening track “Lion’s Share,” the cheering audience was abruptly silenced. Everyone knew what was in store for the evening: live music as a bold and beautiful art. Live music as it is meant to be.

To get everyone’s jaws off the floor and move the crowd, they transitioned into “Loop the Loop,” my personal favorite track from their latest release. Another song that showcases this English band’s penchant for the simple, yet beautiful. The crowd began to swoon, sway, and fall in love with the players on stage.

A couple songs later, they had a botched start to “Albatross.” Tom Fleming mentioned that their equipment had been acting up ever since their recent show at Austin City Limits when it was drenched in a torrential rain. Nonetheless, he said he would win the crowd over with his “English charm” while they got it fixed. The audience (already charmed) cheered in support during the short wait.

Here’s where the most brilliant moment of the show occurred. Thorpe, laughing, admitted that it was not a technical glitch but in fact his mistake that ruined the song. He then pointed out that their entire set list was akin to the timeline of a relationship. “Inevitably, there is a point in the relationship where one of us f*cks everything up,” he said and restarted the song.

After his dark and repeated I-blame-you’s of “Albatross,” Fleming’s vocals took over in “Two Dancers (ii).” Thorpe then asked listeners to indulge his relationship analogy a bit longer, “We got to know each other, we had a fight, and now for the best part… the make-up sex!”

With that, they jumped full on into the very danceable “The Devil’s Crayon” off their debut LP. If there ever was an anthem for make-up sex, this would definitely be a nominee with its overflowing and frantic sense of passion.

This truly is the Devil’s crayon
tracing your shoulder blades, aglow like rayon

We are so many clambering hands

The way you say her name
I want mine said the same, devil

And we are so much moulded dough

On stage, Wild Beasts pull off the exquisite technical perfection of their studio albums without creating a dull, emotionless performance. While they had no fancy fog machines or pyrotechnics, the band members were thoroughly entertaining as they invested themselves whole-heartedly into their art.

When Thorpe and Hayden exchanged lines in songs, the back and forth was perfect. As on their albums, when they sang together, their voices melded together seamlessly to the point that it is hard to tell who is singing what.

In keeping with the relationship-themed setlist, the band closed their encore with “End Come Too Soon.” A somber reflection on a passionate, sex-fueled one-night stand. I’ve got a feeling that for many in the audience, the night was actually just the beginning of a long, committed relationship with Wild Beasts’ art.

The night’s been blessed
With an never-endingness
But nonetheless
End come too soon

Setlist – Wild Beasts @ The Variety Playhouse, 09/19/11

  1. Lion’s Share
  2. Loop the Loop
  3. We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues
  4. This Is Our Lot
  5. Deeper
  6. Albatross
  7. Two Dancers (ii)
  8. The Devil’s Crayon
  9. Bed of Nails
  10. Reach a Bit Further
  11. Hooting & Howling

Encore:

  1. All the King’s Men
  2. End Come Too Soon

An Introduction to Smother

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Wild Beasts – “Bed of Nails” music video

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