The Horrors at The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, Australia, 27 January 2010 – Live Review

January 31, 2010

Gig/Concert: The Horrors
Venue: The Corner Hotel, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Date: 27 January 2010
Headliners: The Horrors
In one word: Satisfying

Well, the night certainly got off on a bad footing on account of the headlining band having already started by the time your intrepid reviewer arrived, a very young 10:05pm – even if it is a Wednesday night! If there’s one thing guaranteed to shit me, it’s watching a gig over the head and shoulders of a crowded room, so a mix of sheer determination and mildly intoxicated belligerence – I always start drinking at home – soon sees me a handful or so rows from the stage before the forest of bodies becomes impenetrable. Oh well. At least the fashionably-skinny ants on stage had faces now…with the exception of the guitarist, whose exceptionally  long mop and permanently bowed head assured I would never, once, catch a glimpse of whatever “Horror” lay beneath…

It’s a good thing, then, that unlike many of the youthful dopplegangers in the audience, I don’t really give two shits (one, at best) about what a band looks like. I was here to witness a performance.

The stage presence of The Horrors, while unexceptional, is certainly not something worthy of complaint. While only two members of the five-piece really move much (the bop-happy bassist/sometimes keyboardist well and truly had his “groove” on), some moody lighting nicely makes up for any stiffness on behalf of the others. But where The Horrors really shine – and this is meant to be a predominantly aural medium, after all – is THE MUSIC.

I’ll confess I first came to said music with something of a bias. An ex-friend and girlfriend of mine, the latter of whom had left me for the former, seemed to be great fans of their first album, so it wasn’t until the release of their second album that I was able to give the band a fair hearing.

Time for another confession, then, and one which will undoubtedly colour the rest of this review: Primary Colours is a strong contender for my favourite album of the past few years. How can a record whose biggest influences appear to be The Cure, Jesus And Mary Chain, Joy Division and just a pinch of early New Order, possibly fail? Good thing for me, then, that almost the entirety of their set-proper consists of tracks from the album in question. 

Also, as someone who favours live music that “sounds” fairly faithful to the recorded material, while still throwing in enough unexpected twists to generate at least a sliver of suspense…The Horrors definitely deliver. Just enough familiar cues as to where to sing along or jump around (which the audience does more and more enthusiastically as the set progresses), with sufficient departures from the album’s structures and what-not to make it all worth the effort of leaving the comfort of one’s living room.

The audience frenzy doesn’t really reach fever-pitch, however, until the all-too-brief encore, which features just a couple of songs from their first long-player, with the moshpit/crowd-surfing antics reaching their unsurprising peak during fan fave “Sheena Is A Parasite”.

In short, while I wouldn’t go as far as to call this particular live show “a revelation” – I’ll save such accolades for the new album instead – I have personally borne witness to many a gig far, far less satisfying than this one. Not bad acclaim at all from a cynical, old, goth-loving bastard like myself.

© Michael Bowser


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