Deerhunter – Concorde 2, Brighton – 27th May 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

It’s been a while since Deerhunter’s last album, Fading Frontier – three years to be exact – but the band finally look like returning with a new album. Having released a tour-only cassette, limited to only 300 copies which sold-out instantly, they hit Brighton’s Concorde 2 – as part of a tour which sees them travel across Europe, to play at festivals such as Best Kept Secret, Northside, Sideways and Primavera. The band, reset with some new members, showcased some new music, as well as some old favourites in a sweltering, very intimate showcase of what the band does best. As a live indie band, you’d be hard pressed to find one more entertaining than Deerhunter, and this feels like the dawning of a new era for the Atlanta-based band.

Support on the night came from Vorhees, who describes her music as, “Ambient, gradual noise and eventual space” and she provided a warm, glowing opening to proceedings. There’s a touch of Tune-Yards to the solo musician, as well as the fuzzy, beautiful and low-key ambience of Brian Eno. She was a thoroughly excellent performer, who more than warmed herself to the crowd by declaring Brighton one of her favourite ever places.

By the time Deerhunter made their way to the stage, Concorde 2 was well and truly packed to capacity and the tension in the air made it clear they were ready for a special show, which the band duly delivered. One of the most impressive features on the night, as always, was the epic ‘He Would Have Laughed’, with its euphoric and captivating chorus of: “Woah oh’s”, which came complete with incredibly evocative lighting focussed almost entirely on centre-stage singer, Bradford Cox, who became more confident by the second. So much so that by the end of the gig, he stood tall, reminiscent of a cult-like figure being worshipped by the dedicated crowd who were being rewarded with beautifully crafted music that they’ve all likely grown up with.

Some bands translate their records almost note for note on the live stage, but not Deerhunter. Throughout the night, they add exciting, drawn-out intros and outros to some of their biggest songs with devastating effect. So much so, that they find a completely different life to what they sound like on record. The best example of this comes from Halcyon Digest cut ‘Desire Lines’, which is an absolute triumph. On record, the song gently fades out into a reverb-drenched close, but here the band choose to culminate into a whirlwind of strident, shoegaze noise. Off-the-cuff, improvised jamming is something that Deerhunter have always excelled at, and it makes their live show even more refreshing and exciting. The descent into noise washed over the crowd, providing an increasingly cathartic experience.

Ultimately, the set was impressively put together, subsequently giving the fans what they want as well as exhibiting the new Deerhunter era. It was a performance that left the audience satisfied with a career-spanning set that included many of their most beloved songs. Including ‘Helicopter’, which saw Cox (whose vocals were exquisite all night long) end with a howling: “Now they are through with me,” which couldn’t be further from the truth. Deerhunter are here to stay and their fans will be with them every step of the way. It was a powerful gig that showcased the band at their best and it was an experience that doesn’t happen too often at venues such as Concorde 2.

Liam McMillen