Live Music Reviews

M83 @ KOKO, London

8 July 2009


If a packed KOKO is anything to go by, people are fast catching on to Anthony Gonzalez. Although he has led M83 through a series of acclaimed albums and live shows, he has tended to escape the radar where conquering the big venues is concerned.

Yet now, with interest in all things Krautrock and shoegaze / stargaze / navel gaze / whatever you want to call it heightened, his moment would seem to have well and truly arrived.

With an ideal match between venue and music, Gonzalez arrived alone on stage, digitised waves of sound floating over the crowd as we bathed in a warm, lunar glow, the feeling that some of Jean-Michel Jarre‘s work was being refracted through time. It was like we were at the back of a particularly vast spaceship, with a soft, deep red light blinking on and off like an indicator.

That the atmosphere didn’t fully catch light was the fault of an eager, chattering crowd, those at the back seemingly intent on talking through the floated sounds, rather than taking the invitation to dive in to them.

Thankfully Gonzalez has done this set enough to know when to crank the tension up a gear, and he did so emphatically with the arrival of vocalist Morgan Kibby and drummer Loic Maurin. Kibby’s voice lent itself to a sublime Kim And Jessie, and then a rapturous We Own The Sky, with its euphoric couplet “it’s coming now” seemingly repeated ad infinitum in a rapidly increasing state of ecstasy.

As Maurin gradually took over the rhythms from behind his protective casing there followed the heady fills of Don’t Save Us From The Flames, Kibby throwing herself quite literally into her keyboard part as the lights danced. As we made a seamless transition into full on, four to the floor beats, inhibitions were cast aside and KOKO fully let itself go.

Throughout, Gonzalez retained the same unruffled cool, preferring to let his music set the scene rather than interrupt with any vacant gig-speak. As a consequence M83, named after a far-flung galaxy in the constellation of Hydra, took us on an interstellar journey, setting us breathlessly down at the other end. On our voyage we had travelled through time – mostly the 1980s – but saw glimpses of the future as well.


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