Wednesday, 25 January 2012

"Daddy's got a Porsche"


M83 live at the O2 Academy, Oxford, January 24th 2012

Arriving after some for once peerless navigation through the city of Oxford well in time for a couple of pints of rather nice Hooky Gold at a nearby hostelry, big noses #1 and #3 entered the steam bath that was the O2 Academy about 10 minutes or so before the band were due on.

Two things - one it was sweat drippingly hot, as the venue was rammed, and two there were an awful lot of Tarquins & Jemimas about judging by the preponderance of upper middle class accents.

This gig was a gift from Phill, bless him, as who else would go and see this odd bunch with him? M83 (named after a distant galaxy) are a band who I have tried hard but largely failed to get into in preparation for tonight's shindig, Phill having bombarded me with several discs of Euro pop flavoured shoegaze-techno-strangeitude.

Bang on 9pm the band, led by guitarist/synth player/vocalist Anthony Gonzalez and three others, two guys on bass and drums respectively and a gal on keyboards and vocals. I have no idea who these others are but they do a sterling job around Gonzalez who despite his name is French and lives in LA!

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Parking ourselves by the merch stall so we could lean on the counter was a mistake as the muggy heat was compounded by two spotlights shining at the stall almost directly overhead. It did not take long before we retreated to the back of the venue, which is where we belong at our age, let's face it.

Not knowing anything about this group I was amazed at how popular they are with their largely early twenty-something audience who stuffed the venue to bursting point - I'd guess around 1200 in total. It becomes apparent that the at times almost techno stylee music obviously makes them faves with the young rug cutters, but this aspect of their sound leaves me largely unmoved. Their music, be it the more club oriented stuff, or my preference the weirder Klaus Schulze meets Jean Michel Jarre with shoegazey guitars, which I'm told by Phill is their earlier sound, is pretty basic stuff played with a great energy. In other words, it is pop music folks.

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A highlight was their hit single Midnight City when they all too briefly included a sax player, which added another dimension to their occasionally samey sound. The vocals whether sung by Anthony or his female companion, included a lot of ooh-oohs and like the albums were largely indecipherable, buried in the mix. It may have been the sonic absorption qualities of hundreds of clammy bodies, but the sound was a bit muddy and simply not loud enough until the end.

After playing for exactly an hour, which included a lengthy break while a faulty keyboard was replaced, they came back for a rather pointless encore which mostly consisted of an uninspired techno workout. A strange band who flit between commercial dance choons and left-field oddness at a whim, M83 seem to have found an audience that love them, and good luck to them, but I doubt I'll be investigating further.

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