LIVE: Beach House @ Albert Hall | 19.10.18
WORDS BY SOPHIE BILLINGTON PHOTOS BY MANC WANDERER
Beach House’s appearance at the Albert Hall begins with a blue fog that had been imperceptible until the guitars start to jangle. Both the music and the smoke floats through the open air, meaning that both the audio and the visual elements of the performance partake in creating the impression of drifting through space.
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The screen behind the band becomes a dark forest sky. It’s all a-green melting into a velvety black. The vast expanse lights up with a hundred glittering stars all of a sudden, amazing the audience in their timely combination with the punching drums and swinging guitar. Victoria Legrand’s friendly voice chirps, ‘Happy Friday’ before the third song in the set – ‘Dark Spring’ – is cheered into play. This time a deep autumnal glow sweeps the screen.
The performance seems to roll from song to song and the Baltimore band caress each note during these transitions. Melancholic but optimistic, Legrand and guitarist and keyboardist Alex Scally become dreamlike silhouettes, fully immersed in their hair-swinging performance.
A couple more songs into play, ‘Myth’ sounds into a largely still crowd, it has been on the edge of everyone’s memory throughout the performance and is much awaited. The keyboard is set to effect as piano keys, which provide the track with its intense lift with their ethereal consistency. At one point in the performance, the keyboardist’s midriff appears doubled on the screen. Their deft fingers are boasted by their punky outfit, every button a glowing blue. Never, before then, had I ever described trousers as hypnotic.
Deep into the concert, I recognise a feeling evoked by a sharp and certain tremor. I realise that Beach House brings with them a heavier rock sound than I’d ever noticed when I’d listened to them through speakers. Surprised by how subtly their harder sounds had entered the hall, I pondered the idea that with Beach House, you don’t know what you’re listening to until you’re fully immersed in it. A soft block red background reflects how heated the room has become. It’s suddenly obvious just how many people are in the room, all under Beach House’s spell.
Recently interviewed by Stereogum, LeGrand mentioned “We want to be able to play a song live and not have a huge part of it be missing. We do care about that. The energy live is really important. We have to have a certain energy. We are a band, we’re not DJs. We have a responsibility as musicians to do that. It means a lot to us.”
The band proved themselves right when they played tracks from from the new album, ‘7’. Howling guitar screamed through the quiet to begin ‘Dark Spring’ and at its close, a discomforting yet enticing crashing aeroplane sound effect. These are the kinds of details that are not missed or could even be made especially for live performances. One of the most admirable dream pop groups of twenty years gone is a hypnotic mixture between Mazzy Star and Massive Attack.