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Everything Everything – RNCM, Manchester 13/12/10

15 December 2010, 12:00 | Written by Matthew Britton

There’s a very definite difference between a gig and an event. If you’d have placed Everything Everything a few hundred metres down the road at the Deaf Institute and got them to play a couple of songs, that would have been a gig. Put them in the RNCM’s auditorium, add a few backing band members behind them (The Man Alive Ensemble) and sell tickets for £15 a pop and you have, most certainly, got an event. And people love events.

Not that it makes much difference to opening act Porcelain Raft, who demonstrates to the handful of people who bother to show their faces for his spellbinding set just why he is so highly rated. Tender on recordings, he’s becoming more honed and powerful with each passing week, a one man orchestra of his own with live looping and effects a centre point of his varied, if slim catalogue of work. Bookended by slithers of applause, Mauro Remiddi looks genuinely overawed at the reception to his work.

A few short hours later, and Everything Everything are ending their set, the seats left empty in the house are single figures. An hour long performance is long for any band on their first album, and the ordeal understandably looks to have taken it out of the four piece. There’s a standing ovation, followed by a rush for the exits – the latter genuine, the former seemingly more out of politeness after a largely lukewarm set.

Throughout their career, Everything Everything have been a band that have simply demanded a response, their fervent fan base reacting to the smatterings of disparaging reviews with the kind of zeal only reserved for bands destined for big things. Perhaps the progression to playing with a backing band felt like a natural for them, a more bombastic take on their already bubbling pop music, but in practice the result is a little more stilted than that.

There is no denying that, in parts, the band are brilliant, syncing with their Man Alive Ensemble to create something breathtaking. More often than not, though, they settle for prancing around the post-Mark Ronson wasteland, putting in the odd toot of horn to add effect, a couple of atmospheric parps to prop up a sound. Even the triumphant moments are somewhat tempered by the presence of Elbow’s Guy Gurvey, hanging around the lobby like the ghost at the feast, a reminder to all involved that these are far from pastures new for indie music.

Perhaps worst of all, the band were upstaged before they’d even stepped in front of their audience. It’s a daring move for anyone to have James Blake lower down the bill at the moment, and the pre-show jokes about seeing the future of music seem more like fact than mockery as his sparse set goes on. Whilst the headliners seek to bombard and pile on the sounds, twitching with energy, overwhelming the listener as they play, Blake has the confidence in his own ability leave spaces and to be downbeat. People might be calling it post-dubstep, but that’s only due to lack of ideas – there’s little like this to have gone before.

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