Photograph by Gaelle Beri. View the full gallery here.
There’s a point during this gig when most of TOY’s heads are bowed, where a still frame of the stage would be almost indistinguishable from a shot of Napalm Death looking for their keys, albeit with a smiling female organist (if you play a Korg organ, does that make you a Korganist?) photobombing.
You can take Alejandra Diez’s grin in a number of ways. It’s could be taken as an indication of a slight softening in the mood, a small crack in the very serious veneer they tended to display at earlier shows, or it could be a subtle, sly hint of a band that are more confident, less reserved and enjoying it more.
They both seem true tonight. There isn’t much in the way of talk, Tom Dougall offers a few “thank yous” in the same clipped fashion as he sings, but there’s something different about this. Something better. Because having proven last year that you can make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, or at least you can make an excellent album out of the remnants of Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong, TOY could have been in danger of getting trapped slightly between stools.
Stick or twist. Persist with just playing an album which has been toured pretty extensively or take a punt on playing new stuff to an audience who may not yet quite ready to indulge it. Or, be like your moronic friend who just can’t quite get their head around the rules of Five Card Draw, and do both. Problem solved. Stools straddled.
It means we get a single new one smuggled in amongst more familiar tracks. The ones we know are great – soaring higher, hitting harder and sounding fuller than ever. They seem more heartfelt too, somewhere way behind the detached calm and swirling corridors of ‘Left Myself Behind’, there’s a previously undiscovered hint of poignancy.
The new one is narrower of eye, sharper of tongue, and has almost a certain glammy, silver-legged strut to its bassline. But it’s done up in what must now amount to typical TOY fashion, emerging through a series of majestic synth sweeps into the kind of widescreen musical eruption that makes you renounce your current calling and start a sect based on a combination of transcendal Buddhism and the doctrine according to Kevin Shields.
‘Dead + Gone’ is more metallic and purposeful, propelled onwards by massive thuds of kick drum. It follows a similar format, a relentless urgent drive of onward motion, endlessly building in momentum and tension and then, in squalls of noise and wonder, releasing.
The effect is hypnotic. And they do it so well, you often don’t notice how long some of the songs go on for. The closing ‘Kopter’ may end up nudging double figures, but as the pace quickens, the guitars shriek louder and the next loop of the song lassos you in, nobody cares in the slightest.