Errors - Heaven, London 18/10/12
When Errors released their new 'mini-album', New Relics, a few weeks ago, it's fair to say it was a little bit of a shock to the system. For anyone who'd ever been captivated by the band's earlier material, at any rate. Not so much of a bad shock, though. Not really. In fact, for many, the chilled-out swirling mist of electronics was more of a pleasant surprise. It does suit the band rather well. However biased this writer may be, though - as a drummer - the loss of the wonderfully harsh, mentally strenuous beats which penetrated the majority of older Errors songs, did leave something of a cavity in the sound. It'll be interesting then, to see how the band play their field tonight.
Before they take to Heaven's darkened stage this evening, however, Brighton's Esben and the Witch float from the sidelines to get things going. There was a lot of fuss about this band when they first emerged on the scene a few years ago, and their recorded material is doubtless engaging. But there's not an awful lot here tonight to get the heart racing. A hazy mess of non-distinct grungy sounds driven by full-frontal beats echoes around the venue as it begins to fill - the bar becoming ever more crowded - but a few tracks into the set and it's hard to distinguish one song from another. Nevertheless, it's a dark and mysterious persona they exude on stage - if not a hugely enticing one. Fore-fronted by almost pop-rock girl vocals with a just a little more sway and aural smoke-machine than the average, there's little to complain about here, but the band won't be setting any worlds on fire with their live show any time soon.
As Errors themselves stride instrument-ward, one of the first things that's striking is the position of the drummer, James Hamilton. So pushed out in terms of sound in their latest release, he's barely visible on stage tonight. Not that this makes his actual drumming any the less. Like an anonymous power of vibrant, tight rhythm, he acts as the backbone of the band - even in the newer, less beat driven material. It is, though, an element of the actual performance, the showmanship, that might be missed. Perhaps he's feeling shy tonight, but Hamilton's flailing arms are usually a propulsive part of the band's stage persona; it's an odd choice to have him so far back, obscured by the darkness and strobe lights. It's also a large part of the pleasure of a good drummer, to watch him go batshit at a kit, and it's something that's missing a little tonight, as on New Relics.
Nevertheless, Stephen Livingstone's effects drenched wave-like vocals shimmer through the room aside the navel-gaze-inducing electronic noise and have the crowd swaying right through the long set.
'Tusk' is an instant highlight. The familiar ascending swathes of chopped up synth noise cascading into the off beats, even if it does come across a little more floaty than what we've seen before.
Recent single 'Pegasus' comes towards the end of the set - right before the encore - to win the night for the woozy, more slowly encompassing of the songs. But 'Pleasure Palaces' is really the one which shows Errors for what they really are tonight. It has those familiar synth sounds seeping into our neurones and it's as sway inducing as anyone could hope for, but it's the backing of the complex and crashy rhythm, which really makes an impact. As the woozy vocals float through the the repetitive 'are/you/listen/ing' of the chorus, seemingly forever, it's scarcely a question worth asking.
'Relics' makes an appearance too, fronted by the vocals of Bek Olivia of Magic Eye, acting as something of a visual pleasure on stage as well as an aural one. Let's face it, with the drummer veiled by the dark this evening, the geeky Glaswegians are not much to look at otherwise. Olivia's feminine vocals take on the air, and effects, of Livingstone's to complete the space age walls of noise, and as the incandescent synths fade off into the background, it's clear that, despite what Errors might have dropped in their transition into the band they are now, they've kept an awful lot of greatness too. Errors have changed, but we'd probably complain if they didn't.
Tonight is, then, an excellent set from a band who reached their sound, found their niche, but didn't stick with it. This may not be entirely the Errors we knew and loved, but this new incarnation hasn't strayed too far, and certainly hasn't lost any of it's lure.
Esben and The Witch
Purchase and listen
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