The problem with Everything Everything (apart from their name getting flagged in my Word document as a repeated word) is that they’re one of the most severe examples I can remember for a while of being a real “50/50” band.
By this, I mean half of their songs are absolutely fantastic, but half are pretty awful filler. The kind of songs that wouldn’t even be considered on a five-song EP, but have to be chucked in to a twelve-song album. Oasis were always terrible for this, and Jay-Z can be pretty bad too (apart from Magna Carta Holy Grail, which was ALL filler).
Every album risks this to a degree, and there’s nothing wrong with having some songs stronger than others. Even some of my favourite albums, such as The Bends by Radiohead or 2001 by Dr. Dre, have peaks and troughs. That’s totally fair.
But somehow Everything Everything seem to struggle walking that tightrope, and both of their albums since their breakthrough (Arc and Get To Heaven) have had massive highs and pretty dire lows. On Get To Heaven, the first five songs may be the best five song combination I’ve heard on an album this year, but the rest of the album is pretty dog (No Reptiles excluded). The worst offender is probably album-closer Warm Heater, which sounds like an unlicensed song from Pro Evolution Soccer 4. But to be honest, I could throw a few songs in to that ugly hat.
Unfortunately, their show at Brixton Academy on Friday did nothing to dispel those pre-show feelings.
Given that I went in to the gig only really liking ten or eleven of their songs, I was nervous when they played four of them in the first five of the set. As great as Kemosabe or show-opener To The Blade were, I had the feeling we were about to hit an extended down period. And good grief did we have to sit through a lot of guff.
And I’m not just referring to his hair.
The reaction from the crowd reflected this. During the highs, the crowd was red hot, particularly the first five and final six songs. But once they hit the likes of Fortune 500 and The Wheel (Is Turning Now) in the middle of the set, the energy sapped out of the room and everyone began talking amongst themselves.
I’m not being facetious here, by the way. At one point, the private conversations were so loud it was genuinely a struggle to hear the band. The girl stood next to me started checking her emails, and she can only have been about 8.
It’s worth pointing out that this was a crowd that at one point were cheering along in time to a flashing light on stage. They could hardly have been easier to please, and yet the dead-zone between hot-opener and hot-close managed to dim their spirits. At that point you felt like they’d have been happier watching a Kevin Bacon EE advert than EE album filler.
The band’s performance, however, can’t be faulted. The aforementioned opening was fantastic, with Regret an easy crowd pleaser. Radiant was also an unexpected treat, and the ending run of Don’t Try, Cough Cough, Spring/Sun/Winter/Dread, No Reptiles, MY KZ, UR BF was spectacular, and Distant Past sent the crowd home in the midst of a party atmosphere. Each of those songs sound great on album, but were elevated in a live setting in a way I didn’t think they’d be able to do, and I’ve seen them live before. If they can keep this momentum up, and continue to put out songs as high a standard as the first half of Get To Heaven, the future looks very bright for them indeed.
As a 10 song show, it was exceptional. It’s just a shame it went on for 20.
Everything Everything Live at Brixton Rating: 50% Radiohead, 50% a Kevin Bacon advert