Ought return to London off the back of the release of their latest record, and Room In The World has proven to be quite a watershed moment for the band. Not only did it see them move from their Canadian label Constellation to Merge, it also marked a distinctive evolution in the band’s sound. Despite largely positive reviews, some fans may have felt faint distaste for the move towards a less jagged, irritated style towards the graceful soul of the new record. So in many respects, this tour gives Ought the opportunity to prove the album’s worth.
And prove it they do. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the first four numbers are indeed from their latest long player, with opener Into The Sea leading the pack. And much like the recorded version it boldly announces the change in frontman Tim Darcy’s voice from the David Byrne-like yelp of yore to a rich and elastic croon.
Disgraced In America’s bounce and hooks work well live. There is a pang of mild disappointment to hear Desire so early in the set, as its slow-burning splendour is a highlight that requires a good warm-up to truly appreciate. But any fears that the missing choir will impact the song’s power are soon alleviated. Darcy is a beguiling front man who infuses every sweet line and dejected response with a gut-wrenching, yet delicate poignancy, that it’s hard to miss the chorus of voices heard on record. No doubt in time it’s a track that will find itself in encores as it burrows its way into fans’ hearts and minds.
As they begin to kick out fan-favourite jams further down the line the crowd inches skyward. Habit is a particular highlight, as Darcy compliments its jittery rhythms with jutting limbs that recall Jarvis Cocker’s trademark poses. Equally, Sun’s Coming Down does offer a nice contrast to the new songs’ smoother cadences.
As the band returns to the stage for the encore Darcy quips that they’re about to play a couple of Grateful Dead tunes, and while that would almost certainly be quite something, they actually settle for Today More Than Any Other Kind Of Day: a song made for encores if ever there was one. And Ought’s performance of it doesn’t disappoint, as its deranged rhythms whip up a satisfyingly manic conclusion.
If there were any criticism of the evening it lies not with the band, but the chosen venue. Given Ought’s increased popularity they could have likely filled a larger room, allowing a stifled crowd to join in with the band’s skittish moves (and the volume could have undoubtedly done with a more generous hand). But overall, Ought proved that over three albums, they have made some genuinely exhilarating music, not least on their latest album, whose grace was beautifully translated in this performance.