Thursday, February 18th, 2010
In This Light And On This Evening
Editors and The Antlers at The Phoenix in Toronto
Frank YangEditors are from Birmingham in the UK and are weathering criticism for daring to mess with their sonic formula on their latest effort In This Light And On This Evening. The Antlers are from Brooklyn in the USA and are basking in acclaim and ever-growing attention in the wake of last year’s Hospice. Two bands who wouldn’t appear to have a whole lot in common except for this – both steep their music deeply in dramatics for effect and both were at the Phoenix in Toronto on Tuesday night.
For The Antlers, the drama extended into their very arrival, having been held up at the border by some extra-conscientious immigration officers and only beginning to load in at their designated set time. Still, they were set up and ready to go just 10 minutes later than scheduled and immediately launched into a sprawling reading of “Kettering”, clearly not willing to be rushed for the sake of expediency. When I saw them in September 2009 at their Criminal Records in-store, what stood out most was how in a live context, they were able to transform the the anguish that permeates Hospice into something more cathartic, and in a large setting such as this, that was even more the case. Despite the late start, they were able to stretch out five songs over about 40 minutes, each filled with crescendos, false endings and emotion, and when they left the stage, it was to an ovation that you might have thought marked the end of the evening.
But no, as much as the crowd appreciated The Antlers, they were here for Editors, mixed reactions to In This Light be damned. Opening with the title track from the new album, it became clear how they’d be handling its synth-heavy sounds while maintaining the dynamicism of their live show – it began with Tom Smith seated at the piano and then midway through, getting up to grab his guitar while Chris Urbanowicz switched off from guitar to synth, a routine that would continue throughout the night as some or all would handle keyboard duties while the others kept it analog. Not a bad arrangement, allowing them to maintain the walls of keyboards while Smith did what he does best, and that’s lurch around stage and providing the kinetic energy necessary to get the show into gear. Though the rest of the band was more animated than the last time I saw them, it’s Smith’s presence and delivery that allows Editors to sell their songs to those, such as myself, who might otherwise have difficulty embracing the dubious lyricism of their grandly appointed anthems.
Clearly believing their new material is more worthy than the critics do, Editors played In This Light in its entirety, and to be fair, its shortcomings are less evident when interspersed with the stronger, more guitar-driven material from their first two records. Both An End Has A Start and The Back Room were well represented, with five tracks from each getting aired out. There were stretches where my attention began to wander but there was usually a big single strategically placed to pull it back in and keep me hanging around and my endurance was rewarded with pretty intense readings of “Munich” and “Papillon” in the encore. Critics of Editors like to point at the band’s over-emotive and unabashedly melodramatic approach, and yeah, they’re pretty well over the top in that department, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as good a show if they weren’t.
eye has a review of the whole show Panic Manual some thoughts on the Antlers’ set while Chart only has eyes for Editors. The Boston Herald and Metro have interviews with Editors and WOXY a Lounge Act session with Antlers, who were just announced as support for The National’s upcoming Spring tour, including the June 8 and 9 dates at Massey Hall.
Photos: Editors, The Antlers @ The Phoenix – February 16, 2010
MP3: Editors – “Papillon”
MP3: Editors – “Munich”
MP3: The Antlers – “Two”
MP3: The Antlers – “Two” (remastered)
MP3: The Antlers – “Bear”
MP3: The Antlers – “The Universe Is Going To Catch You”
MP3: The Antlers – “On the Roof”
MP3: The Antlers – “Stairs To The Attic”
MP3: The Antlers – “Cold War”
MP3: The Antlers – “Keys”
Video: Editors – “You Don’t Know Love”
Video: Editors – “Papillon”
Video: Editors – “An End Has A Start”
Video: Editors – “Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors”
Video: Editors – “All Sparks”
Video: Editors – “Munich”
Video: The Antlers – “Bear”
Video: The Antlers – “Two”
MySpace: The Antlers
Rolling Stone checks in with Aaron Dessner of The National, who still don’t have a title for the new record but should have one before it hits stores on May 11. As mentioned, they have two nights at Massey Hall on June 8 and 9.
There’s a second MP3 available from Ted Leo & The Pharmacists’ new record The Brutalist Bricks, out March 9. And Ted has excuses as to why there’s not Toronto date on the tour itinerary yet, but promises one is coming soon.