Surprisingly, Spoon have never performed in Brighton before, despite being active for over 20 years with nine studio albums under their belt. Under the guidance of main songwriter, guitarist and frontman Britt Daniel they have accumulated a big following, particularly in the United States, for their anything-is-possible, and eclectic rock-pop-dance melange, a band version of The Beatles’ White Album, veering from straight ahead rockers to experimental passages, with a strong sense of psychedelia at its beating heart.
Tonight, they give it their all, Daniel revelling in a chance to play somewhere new, admiring the vibe of the room. Strutting his stuff like a cross between Brett Anderson and any number of natural new wave-esque frontmen from yesteryear, roughed up hair’n’all, with Alex Fischel providing another focal point, every now and then wigging out whilst scraping and thrashing his guitar.
With the addition of new player on stage, Gerardo Larios, making this a five-piece, Spoon kick off with the pounding Led Zeppelin-esque drums and keys of ‘Do I Have To Talk You Into It’, before seguing into the trippy psychedelics of ‘Inside Out’, a track from their 2014 album They Want My Soul.
Indeed, their penchant for psychedelia is perhaps more apparent on the live stage than on record, where the stage lighting and sound effects accentuate and gently twist the underlying melodic noise, at times creating a magnificent wall of sound, whilst at other times there’s a more subdued, darker undercurrent of tormented indie-soul.
Mixing up tracks from the back catalogue, they treat us to the killer minimalist disco-funk duo of ‘I Turn My Camera On’, and the tense rock grooves of ‘The Beast and Dragon, Adored’, both from their breakthrough Gimme Fiction album of 2005, along with ‘Don’t You Evah’, a track from the recently re-released Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga album of 2007. That then segued into a new song, ‘I Ain’t the One’, Daniel delivering a passionate rock’n’roll performance whilst crouched on the stage, the keys beautifully delicate and subtle.
Elsewhere, the title track of their new album Hot Thoughts is typical Spoon, a unique fusion of disco-funk and pop-rock, as is the more minimalist Prince style ‘Can I Sit Next To You’, while ‘My Mathematical Mind’ drives along excitable rhythm guitar and pounding piano bass keys. For the encore they get their tambourines out for the elevator music vibes of ‘Pink Up’, before finishing off with the classic glammed up American punk-rock of ‘Rent I Pay.’
While Spoon records can be complex things, they mange to translate this brilliantly to the live stage, delivering a masterclass in sound dynamics, and performance fluidity, whilst obviously having a gas on stage. From the ambient to full on rock histrionics, and many points in-between, Spoon showcase their incredibly high and consistent standards, one that they have kept up remarkably well these last 20-odd years.