The Horrors (Hit the North Festival)
Given that many recognise them as the missing link between The Cure, The Kinks, Primal Scream, The Mary Chain, Gary Numan, Depeche Mode and Sonic Youth, The Horrors have clearly made a varied impact on popular culture during the last 11 years and 5 albums.
Known for their insistence on exploring new musical tectonics and sounds, last year's ‘V’ album saw the band arrive at their most aggressive and techno-driven sound to date.
A well-received album, 'V' did pose interesting questions about the band, and their live shows; who are The Horrors in 2018? and how do they compile a career spanning live show in a way that doesn’t feel jolted as they criss-cross genres and instrumentations?
Perhaps not since U2’s Achtung Baby tour, or Primal Screams tour in support of Exterminator, has a band had to so carefully blend old and new personalities whilst pursuing audience acceptance and self-imposed high standards.
And yet, somewhere in the middle of a sound which blends feedback-heavy, electro-thrash with synth-driven, loss-meditating, angry, pop music, that’s exactly what The Horrors manage to achieve.
Perhaps core to this success is the way the band sequence their shows; reminding us that the main ingredient of their beloved post-punk was never its ability to blend different musical genres together, rather its delivery of, often veiled, self-assured, left wing, politics.
Regardless of the band's sound however, it’s been Faris Badwan’s consistent, highly personal and often surreal, narrative which has always been the heart of The Horrors.
Faris was, as always, intense and dressed head to toe in black is on fine form tonight.
Raging against The Man, exposing himself and challenging the beliefs of his audience, Badwan delivers a performance which supports his band's ability to join together the thrash guitars and the Gary Numan synths. It’s a spellbinding performance from an artist who goes looking for the heart of darkness so that we don’t have to.
Nevertheless, an hour of rage would become pointless without the tunes to back it up, something The Horrors have in abundance. Interestingly, of the 12 we hear tonight, 6 are taken from ‘V’. 'Hologram', as it does on ‘V’, opens up proceedings with Nine Inch Nails/Gary Numan styled synths and distant vocals tempting us all to ‘leave this ordinary world’, a belief that the band themselves hold, as is demonstrated in a set which takes us from dark dance glory, across sonic genius, into scuzz guitars and back again.
The evening’s final track ‘Something to Remember’ was the night's highlight. Driven, intense and defiant, ‘Something’ takes you on a trip through every ‘must have’ record of the past 30 years; punk's anger, post punk's self-awareness, techno’s forcefulness and rock’s attitude.
As a general footnote both on tonight’s performance, and an artist's ability to capture an audience's attention whilst moving across genres; The Horrors have provided a master class.
We won’t forget to remember.
Photography by Damian Robinson