Real Estate, Bush Hall, London

If the plan is to win us all over on their new material, then Real Estate are truly successful tonight.

Rating:

It’s hard not to fall in love with Real Estate, especially if they’re charming you in an old ballroom. The five-piece take to the stage at Bush Hall bashful and reserved, perhaps because this is the first opportunity they had to play material from their new album ‘Atlas’ to the British public. There was an unmistakable intimacy in the air; even frontman Martin Courtney asks if the lights can be turned down a little, as if to seduce everyone before they’ve even begun. If the plan is to win us all over on their new material, then Real Estate are truly successful tonight.

Proceedings kick off with ‘Had to Hear’, the opening track from the new record that takes the staple Real Estate jangly pop sound and allows it to grow up a little. The new material played is mostly slicker, shinier even. On ‘Atlas’, Real Estate push their swirling guitars not to soaring heights, but certainly to sublime ones, and it is simply a pleasure to hear guitarist Matt Mondanile’s gorgeous guitar work fly around the room like a magic carpet.

Despite having to borrow two guitars from supports Honeyblood due to broken strings (“we’re breakin’ ‘em for you tonight, London” bassist Alex Bleeker jokes during the brief interludes), the band remain rigorously in character, almost to a regimental tee. Their focus and technical prowess are ultimately the most rewarding aspect of the night, as everything comes together so incredibly elegantly. Tracks like ‘Green Ailes’ and ‘Talking Backwards’ find themselves to have whole new depths live; their straightforward structures blown apart into a more widescreen scale.

Fan favourites ‘Fake Blues’ and ‘It’s Real’ show up too, the band not scared to revisit their older material at all. In fact, it just goes to show how far Real Estate have come, as their older tracks now seamlessly integrate themselves amongst material from the new record. ‘Beachcomber’ is the best example of this - what was once a reverb-laden and fuzzy song finds itself shimmering, its guitar lines pirouetting from corner to corner like a beautiful ballerina. It’s simply stunning to see unfold.

Real Estate were at risk of alienating their audience tonight, but they fully embrace a rare London opportunity, with this being the only date in the city - or the country - for the foreseeable future. What unfolds for them is not only a chance to showcase their new material, but also for them to treat fans to an intimate and heartfelt performance of their back catalogue. If ever there is a time to see Real Estate play live, it’s tonight at Bush Hall, and fans will be hard pushed to see them in a venue of equal size in the future if they continue to push forward with such quality and grace.

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