Wild Beasts farewell show at Eventim Apollo, London, review: A fittingly robust and generous performance

Emotional night features 24 songs and a stunning choir for the finale

Ben Walsh
Monday 19 February 2018 13:31
Hayden Thorpe of Wild Beasts performs at Eventim Apollo
Hayden Thorpe of Wild Beasts performs at Eventim Apollo

“For me and my brothers, this is a dream. Thank you being part of it,” announces a clearly emotional Hayden Thorpe, lead singer for the now defunct Wild Beasts, who announced their split last September.

This – as The Strokes once put – is it; the Beasts from Kendal are tamed and their very final performance is a fittingly robust and generous one; featuring 24 songs and a choir for the finale.

Thorpe, the sort of de facto leader for this unique and erudite quartet, is in an understandably gushing and forthcoming mood tonight, at one point admitting “this is f***ing crazy, look at all you, bloody hell”. And he’s right: the venue is packed with devotees, one of which clambers on his friend’s shoulder before teetering off; another regularly bursts into tears.

Wild Beasts, who, at points, channel Pink Floyd, Talking Heads and Badly Drawn Boy (although, in truth, they’re one of a kind), kick off with 2009’s fruity anthem “The Fun Powder Plot” (“This is a booty call. My boot, my boot, my boot, my boot up your asshole”) from the Mercury Prize nominated Two Dancers, followed by “The Devil’s Canyon” from their thrilling 2008 debut, Limbo, Panto.

However, it’s in the unofficial second section of this poignant gig that their distinctive sound really takes off, with Chris Talbot’s potent drumming standing out on their typically tangy (as Hayden admits earlier “as ever this is a song about sex”) “Wanderlust” (“Don’t confuse me with someone who gives a f***”) and “Get My Bang” to the more accessible “Big Cat” and, best of all, the exquisite “This Is Our Lot”, from Two Dancers.

It ends with a three-song encore – “Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants”, “All the King’s Men” and, appropriately, “End Come Too Soon” – before the likeable foursome collapse into a joint hug and deliver a bow to their fans. “Thank you, London, good night,” Thorpe says.

“It would have been great if we were in the Nineties and making a bit of money, some of the bigger things evaded us,” admitted Wild Beast’s co-singer and guitarist Tom Fleming to me recently.

It proved to be the wrong time for this extraordinary – almost definitely the most interesting British indie/art-rock outfit of the past decade – but their music will endure and this was a fitting last act that concludes with a choir delivering three-part harmonies on “Cheerio Chaps, Cheerio Goodbye”.

Cheerio, Beasts.

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