Motion | 28th September | photos by Craig Taylor-Broad
“Do you want to hear a song about sex?” Wild Beasts guitarist Tom Fleming asks before the livewire ‘Ponytail’, the epitome of cool and confidence on stage. It’s a mark of how far the band have come, with new album ‘Boy King’ sticking them in a whole different league, and with a shiny, fresh aesthetic.
The warm-ups at Motion tonight come from local Gloucestershire siblings Ardyn, who impress and charm their way through an early set, albeit without feeling like any kind of softener for what’s to come next.
First is MONEY, and Jamie Lee’s sky-reaching tales of sorrow are particularly cutting tonight. ‘Suicide Songs’ is one of the most ambitious albums of this year, and its highlights are glided through with precision, further taken to dreamier places via an extended, seven-piece live band including strings. ‘I’ll Be The Night’ is absolutely crushing, and while, again, not completely fitting as a support bill, MONEY’s set of storytelling is one to become completely immersed in, sandwiched between Ardyn’s irresistible melodies and the groove and punch of Wild Beasts.
Groove and punch is exactly what Hayden Thorpe and co provide, feeding off every ounce of energy the crowd gives, their ‘Boy King’ alter-egos in full, swaggering swing. Older tracks ‘A Simple Beautiful Truth’ and ‘Mecca’ are given new, vigorous renditions, fitting in seamlessly with the direction the band is headed – and headed with all the momentum of a train.
‘Alpha Female’ closes the main set, and it’s a set that shows Wild Beasts as the danciest and heaviest they’re ever been. The crowd respond dutifully, with the guitar riff of ‘Hooting & Howling’ being yelled back at them like a football chant, while ‘Wanderlust’ remains the hit it’s always been.
In ‘Tough Guy’, Thorpe scans the entire crowd with his index finger, repeating the song’s refrain before Fleming erupts into a truly outrageous, brash guitar solo. The idea of this kind of showmanship and bravado would probably have embarrassed even Wild Beasts themselves five years ago, but the passion and vigour with which they’re living every second of ‘Boy King’ out on the stage makes it a spectacle to behold, and the best the band have ever been.
Read our interview with Wild Beasts about ‘Boy King’ here, and watch the video for ‘Big Cat’ below.