65DAYSOFSTATIC. Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. 15.06.18
This is weird. 65daysofstatic are playing one of the biggest shows of their storied career- bass rumbling, lights strobing, bodies contorting- but, thanks to Robert Smith of the Cure, they’re doing it in front of a theatre full of people who are all sitting down.
It’s not a sign of any audience dissatisfaction. The Sheffield quartet are one of the opening acts of this year’s Meltdown Festival, a yearly collection of gigs curated across the three venues of London’s Southbank Centre. Previous years have seen Yoko Ono and Elvis Costello in headlining slots but this week will see performances from Nine Inch Nails and Deftones. Weird.
Even if people were on their feet of course, the interior of the recently renovated Queen Elizabeth Hall wouldn’t exactly scream experimental electronic rock. Instead it’s a bold, brutalist building outside, a classy wood and faux leather affair with some cold concrete touches inside. 65days though, as they have done with many complications before now, make it work.
Opener ‘Heat Death Infinity Splitter’, a slow, hypnotic cut on record, is skittering and spidery in the flesh. Combined with some atmospheric fog (not cliched, only classy, of course) and an excellent lighting display, it builds and builds until it fills the room. Its climax does not shake the walls as you might expect though and it quickly becomes clear that 65days have swapped maximum volume for crystal clear clarity tonight.
‘Prisms’ is lush ear candy, one of the band’s best examples of math rock mixing with mutating electronics, ‘Crash Tactics’ is just as exciting and urgent as the day it was released, and ‘Taipei’ one giant crescendo. And if the booming bass of ‘Unmake the Wild Light’ does test the amps for a few glorious minutes, ‘Safe Passage’ is delicate and beautiful and perfect.
A double whammy of ‘Retreat! Retreat!’ and ‘Radio Protector’ does, finally, move the audience to their feet. A standing ovation begins and threatens simply not to stop and the band look genuinely shocked and moved by the reception. It’s a sweet standout moment in an evening full of them. Weird. Wonderful.