Before their set, Faris Badwan from The Horrors tells DIY they’re better suited to tents these days. “We can control the lights that way,” he explains, and while it sounds fussy initially, it makes perfect sense by the time they finish their biggest slot at Reading & Leeds so far. Lasers and a dazzling light show can’t do all the talking, but they enhance the band’s to-and-fro between krautrock, electronica and all-out garage rock to such an extreme it’s like witnessing a completely different band to one ending up on outdoor stages.
It’s just a bit of pyrotechnics, but it goes a long stretch. The Horrors have a way of going about things that suggests they’re in no rush. They take a couple of years between albums, and songs often linger beyond the five minute mark. But there’s an urgency here. A strange sense of euphoria. When they cite Detroit techno and other niche influences behind their fourth album ‘Luminous’, they mean it. This isn’t pretentious sideshow, this is as big a part of a package as Faris’ note-bending, commanding vocal.
And it works on a huge scale. Not quite festival headliner-ready, they still manage to fly through highlights from the latest LP like they’re built for this occasion. ‘In and Out of Sight’ tests Tom Cowan’s geeky synth lines to an extreme, and closer ‘I See You’ threatens to never end. Joshua Hayward’s guitar lines build from nothing into beasts of their own within seconds. He reaches notes and decibel levels previously unencountered by the average sod, and there’s a purpose to it - that’s what marks this performance out from self-indulgent fodder. Looking back - only friendly - towards numbers from second album ‘Primary Colours’, they pummel between ‘Sea Within a Sea’ and the more in-your-face ‘Who Can Say’. The most anthemic song in their catalogue, ‘Still Life’, dazzles even more. It doesn’t matter which album they hand-pick from, in the end - everything comes to life in this environment. It’s perfect for them.