Search The Line of Best Fit
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M83 – Somerset House, London 16/07/12

18 July 2012, 11:56 | Written by Sam Lee

Photograph by Josh Holliday.

Some bands are best suited to playing in dark, sweaty venues, where the condensation drips off the ceiling and the floor is sticky with the previous night’s beer. Not M83. Having already played host to the likes of Anna Calvi and Katy B in the past couple of weeks, tonight the magnificent Somerset House acts as the venue for Anthony Gonzales and co.’s swelling, shoegaze-tinged electro – and you really couldn’t find a better pairing if you tried.

The support act, Norway’s Susanne Sundfør, sets the mood perfectly for the rest of the night. Although it’s not quite dark enough for the ambient lighting around the courtyard to have much of an effect, Sundfør, who is joined on stage by a single synth player, more than holds her own as the opening act. Lazy comparisons to fellow Scandinavian synth-pop duo Niki & The Dove would be all too easy to make, but while Sundfør is just as intense and captivating on stage as Malin Dahlström, her bass-heavy set is more foreboding, shifting from sparse and crystalline, to driving and operatic.

Photograph by Josh Holliday.

As the sun sets and the sky darkens, the setting really begins to come into its own. The four up-lit walls of the quadrangle frame the stage, creating a dramatic scene when combined with the kaleidoscopic stage lighting. And the set from tonight’s headliner equals the grandiose setting. Largely sticking to material from the latest album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, M83 deliver a set that is every bit as subtle as it is powerful, from the opening bars of the thrilling ‘Reunion’ early on through to the more downbeat and thoughtful ‘Wait’.

It’s just a shame the atmosphere in the audience doesn’t quite match that on stage. It seems as though quite a large number of people have just come because of that track from Made In Chelsea, and so it’s really not much of a surprise to see several people leaving immediately after ‘Midnight City’ makes its inevitable appearance towards the end of the set. However, as they proved tonight, M83 have got far more than just one track up their sleeve, and the mood in the courtyard does finally pick up slightly during ‘Couleurs’, the final song of the three track encore, bringing the set to a euphoric close.

Somerset House’s ‘Summer Series’ might be drawing to a close for another year, but tonight M83 showed why it’s such a worthwhile event. It’s not everyday you get the opportunity to see such a special band in such a unique venue, and so it’s no wonder that tonight’s show was completely sold out. And, as Anthony Gonzales takes photographs of the crowd during ‘Midnight City’’s saxophone solo, it seems like even the band themselves can sense that tonight’s show was something quite special.

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