There has been a sharp rise over the latter half of this decade in the appreciation of synth-driven music. Combining elements of 1980’s New Wave with the technology of loops, touchpads, and the digital age has opened a whole new door to the art of music production and creativity. It’s this that American duo The Midnight have played to the hilt.
Indeed, the packed SWX in Bristol has a wide variety of punters within its walls, from the older generations wishing to indulge in a nostalgic trip back to their youth and young adults craving the most cutting-edge material to fluorescent-clad cyber goths who have discovered the band through their own ventures into industrial and the heaviness of ‘darkwave’.
Opening on all dates are Violet Days, who are intent on staking their own claim on the current musical soundtrack. Hailing from Sweden, the trio are a good fit for the bill, their synth pop floating through the venue’s excellent acoustics like the most pleasant of summer breezes.
That being said, the songs they have in their arsenal contain a lot of substance, whether it’s the melancholic lyrics of ‘Libertines Jacket’ or the slinky, sensual ‘Cocaine Kisses’. They even throw a solid cover of ‘Let it Happen’ by Tame Impala into the mix halfway through, illuminated by Lina Hansson’s sultry, ethereal vocals. If you’re a fan of PVRIS or latter-day Paramore, these guys could easily become your new favourite band. And if their current trajectory is anything to go by, they will be seriously popular come the end of 2020.
For a band like The Midnight to travel to the UK for only the second time and already be playing venues holding 1,000 people or more is seriously impressive, and goes to show just how much of a fanbase they have built up despite their relatively young career – they only started releasing music in 2014.
Of course, what can prove a serious pitfall for outfits of this ilk is that, in a live setting, they can do little more than programme everything written into a laptop and press play, leaving audiences feeling that they could have just stayed at home and listened to everything through the privacy of their own headphones. The Midnight overcome this with serious aplomb.
Using their talents to the full, their 15 song set sounds massive. Jamie Lyle and Tim McEwan cut loose impressively, allowing the music to flow through them, feeding off the energy of a crowd growing ever more vibrant. From the moment they open proceedings with the opening song from debut album Days of Thunder entitled ‘The Years (Original)’, they have every punter in the palm of their hand and by the time they reach the title track of the same album – which goes down an absolute storm – they are well on their way to what can only be described as a home-run of a show.
However, they are overshadowed tonight by the two individuals they’ve brought along as live musicians. Lelia Broussard not only pulls off some excellent guitar solos but has a brilliant set of pipes on her, particularly during seminal anthem ‘Jason’, making you wonder why she hasn’t been asked to join the band permanently.
The star, however, is the (pun intended) ‘sax’ appeal offered by Jesse Molloy. He is a true delight to watch as he plays with consummate ease and is thoroughly entertaining, whether it’s during the sprawling ‘Shadows’ or the uplifting strains of ‘Vampires’. For whatever reason, a song that includes saxophone is an instant success – something George Michael proved many years ago – but tonight, the joy every time Molloy approaches the front of the stage is unrivalled and ensures a mass of captivated bodies throwing whatever shapes they can.
Incredibly, this is only the 99th time The Midnight have performed live, which seems even more ludicrous given how comfortable and settled they have looked throughout. By the time their two-song encore of ‘Lost and Found’ and ‘Sunset’ brings their performance to a close, nobody is leaving the venue without a massive smile from ear to ear.
It goes without saying that they will be welcomed back with open arms to the UK; the question remains, however, just what-sized venues they’ll be entertaining because, on the basis of this, it won’t be long before they’re in arenas.