Empire of the Sun is an electronic pop collaboration between Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore. When they made their debut in 2008, I was probably too young to appreciate their visual extravagance, as well as their music, yet that did not save me from hearing them on the radio. I did not quite realise how well I knew the lyrics of songs like Walking on a Dream, We Are People and Alive until I completely lost track of time in the Roundhouse venue the other day. The band has not toured in the UK since 2013, but is now promoting their new album Two Vines which is out 28th of October. It was a co-production between Empire of the Sun and Peter Mayes.
“We’re here, we’re gonna have fun!” shouted the frontman, Luke Steele, to get the crowd going during the first moments of the concert and the psychedelic performance had begun. Empire of the Sun is best characterised by their otherworldly alien suits and hypnotising dancers, and let’s not forget the visual show in the background. The variation was quite fascinating, it shifted from colour play, to underwater scenery, to a close up of a man, then splashes of paint, every sort of shape and form. Everything about it was over the top, starting from the costumes and finishing with Steele casually smashing three guitars. It was not only Steele whose costumes were radical, the dancers did not stay far behind in these terms – wings, masks, helmets – everything you can possibly imagine. Without a doubt, it was worth watching. The benefit of live performances is, after all, the possibility of influencing the audience not only with vocals and music, but also with a show to provide a visual illustration of the songs. For Empire of the Sun, this creates a differentiating image, setting them apart from other electro-pop bands and thus becoming a vital part of the concerts.
The focus was not on a specific album, but rather they played a large range. The crowd entirely lost it during the most famous songs (High and Low, We Are The People, Walking on a Dream), and only very slightly faded during others, perhaps due to being simply hypnotised. Undeniably they got the show they had come for. Empire of the Sun has an incredibly specific style they cannot escape. I’m not saying that they should, and this results in disappointment being out of the question – it is the electro-psychedelic composition of visual art plus music that is expected and received. Of course, a subject like this could be overly analysed and thus seen as negative. Nonetheless, there is no reason to go there as the experience was utterly positive.