One of the first things that should strike you at a Klaxons gig - apart from the blaringly high volume, the extravagant, multicoloured disco light show, and the incongruous glowsticks being brandished in the crowd - is the disparity between their two main audience demographics.
On the one hand, a contingent of shaven-headed, thirty-something ogres seems to have taken the band to heart, doubtless swayed by Klaxons' embrace (at first joking, now slightly self-conscious) of "New Rave" hype. While Klaxons are only rave in the sense that their breakneck soundscapes are almost garishly overcrowded, that isn't stopping these elder fans from reliving their youth in this environment.
The rest of the crowd, on the other hand, are more of the band's own era, fierce devourers of the British music press who might barely have broken free of their teens and who almost certainly didn't experience rave the first time around.
Had they been on the scene back then, they would be aware that rave's knuckle-headed form makes for the pop music genre possibly least deserving of a comeback ever. Next to more respectable electronic contemporaries like early house and techno, rave was a kind of debauched comedy cabaret act.
Klaxons are, in point of fact, much better than rave ever was. They're a handsome young indie band of the kind ever more frequently devoured by the music multimedia these days, but they have a gimmick and a personality all their own. That's enough to ensure that they stand out pretty far from the crowd - at least until they're asked to expand on the trick come their second album.
Vocalists and keyboard players Jamie Reynolds and James Righton, and the guitarist Simon Taylor-Davis (as well as the drummer and unofficial bandmate Steffan Halperin) would probably be unrecognisable offstage to all but the most dedicated fan, such is their unassuming demeanour and unflamboyant dress sense. Yet the music they make is explosive and unmistakeable.
Recapturing the almost foolishly fast tempo of rave - the setlist here consisted of virtually their entire first album, yet lasted only 50 minutes, with no encore - Klaxons nonetheless incorporate a crafted tunefulness and intelligence into each song. They are also, quite possibly, the only band ever to write such a series of nascent electro-punk terrace anthems while making explicit reference in their lyrics and titles to William Burroughs, J G Ballard and Thomas Pynchon.
That disparity of sources is in evidence in their first two songs - a crowd-pleasing cover of "The Bouncer" by rave one-hit wonders Kicks Like a Mule, and Klaxons' own "Atlantis to Interzone", a song that references Burroughs. Both tracks feature a riot of strobing lights, deep basslines and chiming keyboards, yet Klaxons' use of such literary name-dropping (their debut album is titled Myths of the Near Future, in tribute to Ballard) seems neither forced nor contrived. The band seem smart enough to have actually read the authors they refer to, and their music - a brand of electronic dance music adapted for real instruments - smacks of a kind of analogue retro-futurism.
The rest of the set follows suit. From "Gravity's Rainbow" to "Magick" to yet another tried-and-tested rave cover (Grace's "Not Over Yet"), each song is a short, sharp, lyrical shock that squeezes the adrenaline out of young and old alike. They are obviously a band that have carefully manicured their own singular style.
In the live environment, however, the finer points of the music are somewhat submerged beneath the fact that it's just great for dancing. The crowd, decked out in the fluorescent outfits of New Rave, are probably given more exercise at this show than at most others twice the length.
Of course, the fact that Klaxons are so relentlessly marketed as part of a prefab scene may yet count against them, and time may well reveal them to be one-trick ponies. For now, though, they're proving that the New Rave fad is more deservingly potent than its original vintage.
Touring to 20 May ( www.klaxons.net)Reuse content