Sunday, February 14, 2010
Editors at the House of Blues San Diego
Longtime fans of Editors were probably shocked upon initially hearing their latest album, In This Light and On This Evening. I will admit that I initially skipped through a number of songs looking for Chris Urbanowicz's trademark Rickenbacker guitar riffs.
It turns out the guitars were substituted for synthesizers with the help of super producer, Flood. Having reviewed Editors multiple times, I knew they would deliver an impressive live show but was curious to see how they would inject the new synthesizer based songs into their prior dominant guitar grounded material.
It took only a few songs from me to regret not seeing Princeton earlier. Based in Eagle Rock, Princeton has been generating some buzz locally and acquired the highly sought after Monday night residency at Spaceland this February. Kanine records just released their debut album, Cocoon of Love.
Fronted by twin brothers Jess and Matt Kivel, Princeton had a slight '80s style sheen sprinkled into their sensibly smart tunes. Guitars jangled and synthesizer swells meshed together for some moments that made me think of such bands as OMD and The Smiths. I highly recommend you to try to hit up one of their Spaceland shows or listen to KCRW on February 22nd for a Morning Becomes Eclectic session.
The Antlers were something of an enigma. I was excited to see their live show and the amount of pedals on the floor and stationed on an isolated stand next to Peter Silberman were impressive. Hospice has generated lots of praise based on its moody dense soundscapes. Darby Cicci was in socks stepping on his Roland PK5 bass pedal filling in the spaces between Silberman's expansive tortured guitar notes.
"Bear" played like a lullaby that slowly ascends and declines with washes of noise injected into portions of the song. While the recorded versions of the songs may trigger aural similarities of Arcade Fire, the Antlers are much louder live with no acoustic guitars in sight. "Atrophy" and "Thirteen" were highlights of their shortened set.
The floor of the House of Blues San Diego had filled in nicely by the time Editors were due to hit the stage. Tom Smith immediately headed towards his piano to play the opening notes of "In This Light and On This Evening". Russell Leetch performed an impressive mid air leap when the song hit the chorus as the members of the band were basked in blue light.
Strategically dipping back to their brilliant first album, The Back Room, "Lights" had Smith grab his Fender guitar to knife out the cutting riff augmented by Urbanowicz's guitar echoes. "An End Has A Start" kept the pedal to the metal with Ed Lay feverishly laying down the driving beat that was slightly overshadowing the other instruments.
Turning their attention to their synthesizers, "You Don't Know Love" sounded even better than the recorded version with the synth pads swirling around the room. It was even more impressive when they went back to their guitars for one of my favorite tunes "Bones". Editors definitely knew what they were doing when they arranged the setlist. It was a perfect balance of new into the old back into the new.
Editors never exceeded the limit of playing more than two new songs in a row. Urbanowicz was tapping on a sampler for the bouncy pings for "The Boxer" before switching over to his Moog Voyager. Leetch also had a turn on his synthesizer for "The Big Exit". The green lights started to intensely flicker at the climax of the song as the synthesizer melodies started to become more urgent.
"Blood" had the stage soaked in red light to match the title and mood of the song. "The Racing Rats" had the crowd clapping along with the tremolo riff from Urbanowicz. My favorite song from the new album "Like Treasure" sounded epic live with Smith extending his vocal range and delicately laying it over the Omnichord notes from Urbanowicz.
"Bullets" was a fury of bass and drums rumbling that was perfectly transitioned to "Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors". The escalating synthesizer groove to "Bricks and Mortar" was uplifting but clashes with Smith's lyrics "Pour salt water on the wound". It is fitting though that the last lyric before they leave the stage is "I hope life is good for you".
Smith dedicated "Munich" to the Antlers and Princeton as the crowd started jumping around upon hearing the opening notes. The icy cool synthesizers of "Papillon" sounded eerily similar to something from Depeche Mode in the Violator era. "Fingers in the Factories" capped an evening that was worth the four hour drive in rain down to San Diego.