Live Music + Gig Reviews

Death From Above 1979 @ Electric Ballroom, London

20 October 2014

Death From Above 1979 There’s a point tonight where you look around at the surrounding sweaty throng, see the flailing hair and limbs of the two figures on stage and hear the metallic, spiky whirlwind erupting from beyond and you go, yeah. Yeah. This is fucking fantastic. This could be the way to spend the rest of my life.

It’s exactly why Death From Above 1979 became such a cult act. For a moment, you wonder what would have happened had they not left for 10 years. If that decade had been filled with album after after album of Jesse Keller (aka MSTRKRFT) and Sebastien Grainger doing their thing. Everything would surely have been better. War would be over. Recession would be tamed. People would be happier.

Of course, that isn’t necessary a theory that holds up in the cold light of day. Album after album after album after album would have almost certainly come up against both the law of diminishing returns and the limitations of what you can actually do with a drum kit, a bass guitar and a selection of the finest screams you can get this side of placing your foot in a bear trap.

But. For a moment, a singular glorious moment, that’s how they make you feel. So when you walk away from having seen Death From Above 1979 it is with an astonishingly wide smile splitting your face. They are such a fantastic live band. The kind of act who cause wild, guttural, vowel heavy proclamations of happiness, if not necessarily a detailed, footnoted and cross-referenced dissertation that explains why.

There is something simple and primeval in the pleasure you get from watching them. And that’s even despite the new album being slightly less primeval and slightly less simple than the debut. Tonight is, unsurprisingly, new song heavy. They tease with the old, including an opening Turn It Out that screams the set into life and a hulking beast of a version of Romantic Rights in the encore, but they lean mostly on the new.

Happily The Physical World stands up very well to the weight of expectation. Virgins stomps around the place with a smear of glam in its gait. Gemini pummels with the intensity of a determined gymnast approaching a horse, and sees Keller massaging squealing bursts of feedback from his amp, while recent single Trainwreck 1979 is immense, with a huge, thunder-clap of a riff that leaves you floored.

It takes a little while to properly catch, but by the time White Is Red is unleashed, about three quarters of the Electric Ballroom are joined in moshing unison. Judging by the way Keller and Grainger go about their business, it is entirely cathartic being in Death From Above 1979. It is definitely cathartic watching them.

The bone shuddering, earth shaking, fist pumping exultation closes with The Physical World, and Keller flicks us a plectrum. Grainger flicks us his best Churchill victory v’s, and a thousand people look around and say, yeah. Yeah. This is fucking fantastic. This could be the way to spend the rest of my life.

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