Live Review

The Antlers, Manchester Deaf Institute

Internet nerds might have ruined the word ‘epic’ by applying it to everything from World of Warcraft to bus journeys, but there’s little else to describe the sound of the Brooklyn trio.

It’s something that we’ve all feared for a long time – being in a band must be terribly glum for the majority of the time. If you’re not signed, you’re generally toiling away to crowd who couldn’t care less, if you are signed you’re living in fear of being dropped and even if you are successful, the fans generally only want to hear the stuff that got you there in the first place – material that you’ve likely played several hundred times and only serves to make you feel like a numb puppet, divorced from the emotion of the people who’ve paid to see you. At least that’s what I tell myself to help stop the self loathing that having no musical talent brings.

The Antlers have opted for another route. Though their earlier releases all have their merit, the spectacular ‘In The Attic Of The Universe’ in particular, the threesome have chosen to enforce change upon their fans, as their latest sets have only included songs from the band’s latest album, ‘Hospice’. Not that they’re likely to hear any complaints – the album is likely to be topping several end of year lists, and it translate onto stage with eerie perfection. Self released earlier this year, the demand from fans meant a re-release from French Kiss Records, and it’s pretty much been an upward trajectory ever since.

Internet nerds might have ruined the word ‘epic’ by applying it to everything from World of Warcraft to bus journeys, but there’s little else to describe the sound of the Brooklyn trio. Everything simply seems to be ramped up from the record, with each song given an extra helping of emotion. Michael Lerner’s drumming is perhaps the most notable change, with its pounding rhythm dragging the performance forward whilst Darby Cicci’s haunting work with the keyboard manages to top the already dizzying atmosphere of the album.

It’s been said that lead singer Peter Silbermann penned these songs as ‘an elegy for my planned disappearance’, and it’s his fragile falsetto vocals that make the band what they are. Listening to the band play, it’s striking just how great of a story teller this man is, as the power and emotion of his lyrics manage to filter their way through the bands distinctive sound. It’s not as though the band are one trick ponies, either. Whereas ‘Two’ is delivered with the sincerity of a man on the verge of tears, and ‘Bear’ is touching and poignant in equal measure, ‘Sylvia’ is fraught with an undeniable desperation and anger.

The band leaves the stage with smiles, and it’s obvious that they’re enjoying this new chapter in their career. The Deaf Institute is unlikely to play host to anything like this in a long, long time, and anyone who passes up the opportunity to be in the band’s presence has missed out. The biggest worry is for members of the band themselves - though they’ve missed the curse of having to perform your earlier material, the fact that ‘Hospice’ is a concept album about losing a loved one to bone cancer, it might only be a matter of time before they move back to their earlier stuff, for their own sakes.

Catch The Antlers at Bush Hall later this month. Also coming soon is These New Puritans. If you’re on O2, you can get Priority tickets to all Bush Hall gigs up to 48 hours before general release.

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