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The L Ine of Best Fit Pfork Fest by Kirstie Shanley Broken Social Scene 02

A collective roar: Broken Social Scene live in London

29 May 2017, 16:37 | Written by

Broken Social Scene's first London show in seven years (Brixton Academy, 24 May) was always destined to be a celebratory affair. For those of us nurtured on mid-Noughties Pitchfork indie, it promised an eagerly-awaited nostalgia trip; for more recent converts, a rare opportunity to see the Canadian indie-rock collective in their densely-layered, multi-instrumental glory.

And in those respects, it more than delivered. Frontman Kevin Drew quips mid-set that he's "bringing things back to 2006", but having experienced the meandering jam-band odysseys that constituted their live show back then, there's definitely something to be said for 2017. The band are tauter than ever, the arrangements more focused, and the charismatic pairing of Metric's Emily Haines and new recruit Ariel Engle augments every song they lend their talents to. A few new tracks are aired that aren't a huge departure from the wall-of-sound aesthetic honed on "You Forgot It In People", but generally bode well for their comeback album "Hug of Thunder", and old favourites like "7/4 (Shoreline)" and "Cause = Time" receive a deservedly rapturous reception.

But it was also a celebration lent a deeper, more cathartic aspect by the tragic events that transpired earlier that week, where 22 people, mostly young women, were senselessly killed leaving an Ariana Grande show. It's not something that's addressed directly tonight (their show in Manchester the previous night became a de facto tribute to the victims, and the resilience of that great city), yet nonetheless, there's an palpable desire for emotional release rarely present under normal circumstances. Drew's low-key channelling of Wayne Coyne has in the past sometimes become a little wearisome, but tonight, it hits exactly the right tone; earnest but inspirational, but not overdone. There's a moment in main set closer "Ibi Dreams of Pavement" where he implores the audience to let out a primal scream before the triumphant brass climax, a feature of their set since time immemorial, yet here feels like truly special, a collective roar against fear and hatred and for the joy of two thousand people uniting to enjoy the magic of live music.

The most poignant moment of the night comes with "Anthems For A Seventeen-Year Girl", for obvious reasons. It's a song almost nursery rhyme-esque in its simplicity, but there's something about the final repeated refrain ("park that car, drop that phone, sleep on the floor, dream about me") sung over a post-rock crescendo that hits particularly hard tonight, and that's before we even reach the closing lines: "Now you're all gone / Got your makeup on / And you ain't coming back".

As they close with a second, apparently unplanned encore of "Almost Crimes", Drew throws out a line that he's used many times before but seems particularly apposite tonight, as I look around the room and see middle-aged white guys, Indian twenty-somethings, Chinese couples and young ladies in hijab all brought together by a shared love of music- "together is all we got." It's hard to disagree with him.

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