Live at Canal Mills on Saturday, 17th October 2015
Fresh from their Mercury Prize nomination snub, Everything Everything took to the stage at one of Leeds' most unusual venues, Canal Mills - situated opposite a large sex superstore called Cocktails and Pulses in a soulless, unit-filled area of Armley.
The 18th century textile mill has a gloomy interior, full of iron girders and exposed bricks and pipework to create that post-industrial look so beloved by artists - a perfect spot for the Beacons Festival which incorporates the edgier side of music, art, film and food from Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool. Although the atmosphere is dank and heavy, Manchester-based Everything Everything light up the darkness with a sparkling 75-minute set that at times takes the breath away with its rich inventiveness borne from a desire for originality with an electronic pop sensibility and everything else thrown in for good measure.
EE, playing as a five-piece with possibly a former member of the band on keys and dressed in matching orange and purple outfits, have the crowd in the palm of their hands as they kick off the night with To the Blade, the first track on their third and latest album Get to Heaven which got the Later with Jools Holland treatment the night before.
Jonathan Higgs, lead singer and lyricist, jigs about the stage with a big grin on his face for most of the night and with good reason as an adoring crowd roars approval for just about every song and adds a festival feeling to a special night from a complex group where syncopation and the unexpected provide perfect antidotes to pop cliches.
Tracks from the new album like Regret, the poppy Spring/Sun/Winter/Dread get a great reaction and there is even a stage rush midway through the brilliant Distant Past which brings the evening to a premature close just before a couple of encores. Perhaps the highlight of the night is No Reptiles which speeds up towards the climax as a drum machine wheels out of control but with the harmonising from Jeremy Pritchard, Alex Robertshaw and drummer Michael Spearman still rising above it all.
"You guys up for it tonight?," asks Higgs as the boys soar into the stratosphere with Get to Heaven. The answer is a definite 'yes' as the funky rhythms give way to a rocky guitar solo in a punchy version punctuated by samples and extra drum beats to create an overwhelming sound.
The songs are so sophisticated and well crafted it's sometimes difficult to know where one song ends and the next begins as in the transition from The Wheel into Fortune 500, with its Blue Monday-like intro - both of which come to life in a live setting and at a venue which delivers on sound quality.
The Ivor Novello award-winning debut album Man Alive, now five years old, is largely ignored tonight although the angular, math rock and hip-hop influenced Schoolin' gets a work-out as does Photoshop Handsome - "an old one," announces Higgs - which still sounds fresh.
Cough Cough, one of the best tracks from second album Arc, follows and the mainly youthful crowd gets plenty of chances to join in. The night closes with a final encore of the wonderful MY KZ UR BF which understandably goes down a storm.
Their lyrics may be obliquely uncomfortable and their time signatures are off the charts but Everything Everything still have a lightness that makes them engaging and refreshing. Is it prog? pop? R'n'B? dance or rock? It's all of these things. Everything. Twice.