The War on Drugs Live Experience
I was delighted to get my name on the guest list for the recent The War on Drugs gig at the newly refurbished Albert Hall in Manchester. TWoD were the best band I saw at Glastonbury 2014 so I jumped at the chance to see them in a more intimate setting. The first thing anyone should know about The War on Drugs is that their sound is very layered and can take a couple of listens before you really begin to scratch the surface but they're more than worth the time invested. A road trip or long train journey would be the perfect opportunity to really get acquainted with their sound.
The live experience however lets the guys bring something else to the table, they start off strong and play a couple of hits to get the crowd going. Under the Pressure kicks things off with a really slow and lucid intro. Baby Missiles was the second on the list, its probably my favourite of their tracks and it certainly got me invested in the gig. With no pause between the songs a haze of re-verb kicked off Baby Missiles and the crowd responded well to one of the bands higher tempo songs. TWoD are constantly compared to Bruce Springsteen and this is the song which that comparison rings most true.
Adam Granduciel, the front man is often portrayed as a shy and reclusive presence, a view which is supported by the fact that he considers TWoD to be a solo project but clearly prefers the group mentality and security of a traditional band, but tonight he is on form and has a bit of back and forth with the crowd, especially the area cordoned off for the press, which I managed to get a pass for, about our positioning behind the sound system.
Throughout the gig the audience are treated to American shoegaze at its very best, there tends to be a little more back bone than the British equivalent, but it doesn't lose any of the magic or the feeling that you're witnessing a piece of music that can go off on a tangent at any given point, while I'm sure the act is rehearsed and honed to perfection, it often feels like you are listening to parts of songs which haven't been heard by an audience before.
The back end of the gig is populated by the bands third album Lost in the Dream, which charted high in the UK and the growing reaction in the arena shows this, for me the best reaction of the night was for In Reverse, the closing song on the aforementioned album, a long meandering affair which invites the audience to sing a long as we reach the peak of the gig. For the first few bars all eyes are on Granduciel as he plays the signature opening solo and the crowd begin to clap as the echo sets in; you can tell anticipation is high. Granduciel thanks the crowd be fore the first chorus kicks in, a rare moment of showman ship before his eyes are planted back on his guitar and he delves in to the rest of the song.
The band close the gig with a strong encore lasting about 30 minutes, of course everyone stays. It was an amazing experience to have the opportunity watch such an accomplished band up close in a relatively intimate theatre such as Manchester's Albert Hall, hopefully it wont be long before I get the opportunity to watch them again!
Cheers for reading
P.S, some kind person has uploaded the gig on YouTube, so give it a view!