Beach House, Roundhouse, London
Dream pop duo Beach House are covered in smoke and coloured light, reduced to mere silhouettes on the stage. Victoria Legrand’s big, shaggy hair is the only discernable feature as she bobs and whispers. She is sometimes heard, sometimes obscured by Alex Scally’s rippling, dreamy guitar chords.
The Baltimore band have been quietly building a following for eight years and are now onto their fourth album, Bloom, a 1980’s psychedelic pop-inspired album. Listening at home, their tracks wash over you with vivid intensity, the synthy keyboards, reverberating guitar and Legrand’s seductive voice all work beautifully, but live, the subtlety is lost and each song seems to bleed into the next. It’s still enjoyable, but the dreamy sound becomes worryingly soporific.
“Zebra”, with it’s slight shift in pace, subtle harmonies, nice twangy guitar and soaring keyboards briefly rouses the crowd from impending catatonia, while “Used to Be,” a hypnotic, nostalgic tune about looking back over a relationship, where Legrand’s voice fuses eerily with the keyboards, loses a lot of its power from the indistinct lyrics and receives only muted applause.
The band’s attitude to a live performance doesn’t help to revive the atmosphere. It feels like we’re watching through a two-way mirror, and they are still in the recording studio. Legrand’s mechanical, “Thank you for being with us. How very lovely to have you here,” feels as though someone has told her to say it to be polite, like an unwilling child ordered to make up after a playground spat.
It gets worse. “On the Sea,” a beautiful, subtle lullaby, evocative of waves gently rolling across a beach, begins well, “out on the sea we’d be forgiven” simpers Legrand, her velvety voice washing over us, then, “oh, sorry that was a flake out.”
The music stops abruptly and Legrand strides over to Scally. The lovely trance cast over the crowd is broken. The pair appear to be having an argument, on stage, in the middle of a gig. She whacks him on the shoulder, they dispute something, then they seem to resolve the issue and begin the song again.
It’s the most lively they’ve been all through the set, it’s a pity they couldn’t direct a bit more of that energy into the actual performance.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 2 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Cee Lo Green: It is only rape if the victim is conscious
- 5 Nigerian witch-finder Helen Ukpabio threatens legal action against human rights organisations
Scottish independence referendum: Franz Ferdinand, Mogwai and Frightened Rabbit to play in support of Yes campaign
Jessica Chastain demands Scarlett Johansson-fronted Marvel superhero movie
Downton Abbey series 5 start date revealed: ITV drama to return in late September
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Olivia Colman and Mary Berry top Radio Times' female power list
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain