Words by Dan Scoggins
Photos by Mark Stimpson
This bus is a few years late- an original gig at Norwich’s larger UEA venue was postponed by the pandemic. The smaller Waterfront tonight housing the band for scheduling reasons. I was looking forward to being up close and personal with Everything Everything, who are one of the most genuinely original and exciting bands of the last decade.
The venue doesn’t disappoint in this matter, in its 30 year history it has housed some truly great moments in close setting. The band come on stage within touching distance.
Since this tour was announced and rescheduled the band have released an entire album and the preliminary singles to its follow up. A great album it was as well “Re-animator” playing to their strengths and continuing their pursuit of experimentation in pop also.
If you are unfamiliar with the band, think about a pop/rock outfit taking the influences from Radiohead’s Kid/A Amnesiac stage and then combining them with ideas from more unconventional modern pop and dance music. This then all gets filtered through Lead singer Jonathan Higgs crazy dystopian black mirror of a brain into brilliant, rhythmic lyrics that are delivered often in a wavering, powerful falsetto. It’s quite a gumbo.
It works very well and they are in essence a rock band with Guitar, Bass and Drums (and an added live keyboard player). However, there is nothing traditional about the way they approach this.
What we end up getting tonight is a greatest hits set. This is no problem as the band tends to release three or four excellent singles from each album. There is plenty to choose from and the likes of “Cough Cough”, “Can’t Do”, “Kemosabe” and “Spring/Sun/Winter/Dread” are always welcome audience pleasers. Polyrhythms sworl and synthesisers chug- the songs are so hooky which is one of the bands great single strengths. “Violent Sun” and “Distant Past” left to wrap up the show are two great examples of this knack for melody and hook.
We are also treated to new works. It’s very hard to tell where EE might go next and they are no stranger to pushing it. “In Birdsong” the lead single from the previous album hinted at something very different with analog patter and chimes in an almost entirely digital production. There is a similar vibe to the new material. Opener “Telytype” a crazilly poppy venture. This however, was transformed as a live experience into a very real- four dimensional band sonic template. It’s a great single and builds anticipation for the new album.
These lads will use everything in the playbook to bring a song to life. Jeremy- bass genius and general all round number one guy always looks like he would be happy picking up anything and getting a tune out of it- he is a wonder to watch and one of the best contemporary musicians around playing in a mainstream band. Just listen to his playing on mid-set highlight “Black Hyena”, wowswers. Hello re-animator.
“Bad Friday” another new single is given late on in the set and already sounds assured, classic. The surprise new one “Jennifer” tilts in an alt-country. It’s something new and quite remarkable for them and suddenly I realise that the band is once again maturing into something new. Unafraid. These last ten years building to what I hope will be a great new album.
But then, on reflection. I think about the work rate that bands have to undergo these days. EE have had run-ins with several labels and are now pretty much doing it for themselves. Wildly inventive Guitarist and general band polymath Alex produced the new album in its entirety. They have churned out great album after great album. Six in Eleven years. They must be tired. Although they do not look it. There is a slight malaise there. This is reflected with an edginess with each other on stage. Just a tiny sense that they are playing apart rather than together. The sound does not help- they are a big loud festival stage band and the smallness of the Waterfront is audibly murky. Particularly in the top end with Micheals drums losing a lot- noticeably in the cymbals and hi- hats where he does so much amazing work. The payoff from the intimacy of the venue, perhaps. Not really the resident sound people’s fault. The room is too small for such a big sound.
My only other grimble is that the first album was poorly represented. This is also understandable given the sheer amount of amazing material the band has produced.But the further we get away from “Man Alive” the more astounding that album seems. It’s not just a classic but really an exceptional debut. They do represent with “Photoshop Handsome” but (in my opinion) the song “Schoolin’” with its setting out stall and intent for what the band could do and become- its art rock fever- would have been the better song to include.I’m yelling it at the encore like an old fool.
I hope EE sticks around as a unit, and I am very excited to hear what “raw data feel” sounds like- but let’s face it- I’m gonna love it (talk about critical nuance). If you get the chance to discover this band- or see them live- take it. Up close and personal or forty rows back in a field, they are the type of band you will miss when they are gone.