Live Review

Darkside, Fabric, London

What begins as a showy opening that nearly outstays its welcome eventually morphs into a towering juggernaut.

If the gospel states that ‘Space Is Only Noise’, Nicolas Jaar is preaching it. For something so spacious, barely-there, to get the kind of fevered reaction that meets producer Jaar and guitarist Dave Harrington’s Darkside project in London tonight, is fairly remarkable. So much so that the initial five minutes of the duo’s set - on the release date of their ‘Psychic’ album - are essentially just crowd noises.

It’s one grand intro. The biggest intro ever. If this were any other band working their way into a lowly-anticipated support slot, they’d be booed off stage or met with dismissive glances. But this is Darkside, the crucial part being that everybody knows what’s coming next.

The purpose of this set is to bask in the build. What begins as a showy, nigh-on mute opening that nearly outstays its welcome eventually morphs into a towering juggernaut. A loose, improvised version of album closer ‘Metatron’ commences things. Shunning the immediate punch of how it sounds on record for something more stirring and unrestrained, the pair still give off the impression that they’re only just warming up.

Things begin to bubble to the surface. Limbs loosen up, Jaar stops turning his back on the audience. Baritone vocals are drowned out by whichever flurried electronics happen to be coming out of his controller at any one point. Harrington meanwhile paces and prowls, occasionally amping himself up to jolt with his guitar, looking like he might pounce on the crowd given the right encouragement. His guitar work is tighter on ‘Psychic’, more restricted to routine. Here, he does whatever the hell he likes. It’s a constant tease. Audience members whoop the second they hear a bass thud and heady beat come in sync. But it’s a rare occasion. It’s all part of the game.

‘Paper Trails’ takes things to the next level. Suddenly everything’s out in the open. Darkside tonight resemble some kind of high-powered, almighty gadget that requires a good 10 minutes of TLC before it can fire into its daily duty. Once they hit form, they become the proggy, disco-enhanced force that defines this new record - they couldn’t be more confident about achieving it.

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