Live Review: Everything Everything, Rock City, (11/11/15)

By the time of their release of the acclaimed 2015 LP Get To Heaven, Everything Everything are a group that really need no introduction. Categorised most simplistically as “alt-pop”, truthfully there are no limits to the influences – both in terms of their sound and their style – that have shaped the four-piece over their eight years together, since forming in 2007.

The crowd gathered in Rock City to see the group arrive in Nottingham on their Get To Heaven tour is as diverse as the latest, eponymous album – fans young and old, of either the pop overtones or the complex crafting and intriguing agenda of this band’s back catalogue, are all undoubtedly excited alike for the appearance of Everything Everything on stage.

This is not to say that those interested in this group for the former reason – their pop, R&B, and electronic overtones and style – have missed the point. Frontman Jonathan Higgs, who opens the set with the haunting vocals of ‘To The Blade’, has made it clear in the past that they define themselves as a pop group, despite also acknowledging that the musical influences of each member of the band range from jazz and funk, to prog rock, to post-hardcore and punk. It’s more that the themes and subjects explored in their songs aren’t what you’d expect to find in a Top 40 pop band’s songs, let alone alternative acts.

“The crowd gathered in Rock City is as diverse as their latest album”

“So you think there’s no meaning / In anything that we do / Maybe it’s the silence / Maybe it’s the war” sings Higgs in his peculiar yet captivating falsetto voice to an enraptured audience. One would think that writing an album inspired in part by some of the past year’s most horrific international news – from the spread of Ebola, to ISIS beheadings, to missing airplanes, and the rise of UKIP –  is unlikely to see not only one but two of its singles appear on The Only Way Is Essex, and yet that’s exactly what happened over the summer as ‘Distant Past’ and ‘Regret’ were released to very favourable reviews.

This isn’t meant to “troll” anyone though – Higgs describes the more palatable veneer of Get To Heaven as a “Trojan Horse”, disguising the bubbling “lava of doom” beneath the surface. After spending a year immersing himself in countless newsreels and trying to comprehend the crushing, tremendous nature of such human anguish, Higgs stresses that the final direction of the album wasn’t to wallow in antipathy, but rather to open a dialogue and provoke a deeper reflection on these issues that can become overwhelmed and lost in the pace of modern life.

And, indeed, the crowd at Rock City on Wednesday joined together in a celebration of Everything Everything’s music and each other’s company. Favourites from the latest album such as ‘Distant Past’, ‘Get To Heaven’, ‘Regret’ and ‘Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread’ were soaked up and danced along to as much as ‘MY KZ, UR BF’ from Man Alive and ‘Cough Cough’ or ‘Kemosabe’ from Arc.

“Higgs describes the veneer of Get To Heaven as a “Trojan Horse”, disguising the bubbling “lava of doom” beneath”

Despite the complexity of the various melodies and time signatures of the band’s set, alongside Higgs’ relentlessly impressive vocals, it’s quite extraordinary to witness how the sounds of the group’s records translate so well into the live setting. As unconventional as the latest album may be, even Everything Everything aren’t ones to buck the tradition of an encore. Returning to cheers and applause, Higgs expresses gratitude and says that each member of the band commented in the break that Nottingham had provided the best crowd of the tour so far.

Their encore brings the highlight of the evening – ‘No Reptiles’ – which closes with a moving crescendo to which the audience cheers along: “Just give me this one night / Just one night to feel / Like I might be on the right path / The path that takes me home / Wise enough to know myself.” A profound and uplifting track from one of the best albums of the year, Rock City was truly treated to a fantastic set from Everything Everything.

James Noble

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Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham's IMPACT Magazine.

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