Everything Everything are an eager bunch. It’s just after 9pm, and already they’re onstage, kicking off their first headline show in London this year with an amazingly tight, yet slightly stiff, rendition of Final Form. It’s as if the audience wasn’t quite ready for them, as stragglers try to hurry the bar staff and squeeze in from the back.
Surprisingly, it is the sound of the much less energetic Leave The Engine Room that lifts the mood. Suddenly, the room sings every word, loud and high-pitched, sounding a bit like a children’s choir. There is something innocent and greatly respectful about the mood: an atmosphere not often felt at a gig.
But the shimmering synth chords of MY KZ, UR BF come like a splash of cold water to the face, and the audience erupts into fits of dancing. It’s been 9 months since their debut album, Man Alive, was released, but still no one can figure out all the words to Everything Everything’s songs. So the words they do know are shouted with all the more passion, like they’re the only release for the feverish excitement that comes with hearing these outrageously catchy songs live.
What started as a bit of a placid gig is now very much warmed-up, as Tin (The Manhole) is met with thudding hand claps. Lead singer, Jonathan Higgs, now looks comfortable and confident as he moves in an almost theatrical manner, reaching his ultra-high notes with impressive ease.
As the show goes on it takes on the air of an epic modern day opera, as the drama and monumental proportions of songs like Nasa Is On Your Side come to a head in this large and ornate old theatre.
That is, until they unveil a new song. Huge bass pounds through the speakers and Jonathan’s vocals dart about, playing with rhythm and volume to create something as quirky and exciting as their debut releases. Rather than whining that they don’t know this song, the audience moves like it’s one of their favourites.
The bass goes on with Suffragette Suffragette, as gut-shaking tones boom through the air, stopping only to make way for the massive riff that proves strong enough to induce head-banging amongst passionate fans at the back.
“Thanks for coming,” says Jonathan, unexpectedly. It’s 10 to 10.
A thudding bass drum announces the much-loved Schoolin’, which makes Everything Everything’s dance influences unavoidable and momentarily turns the Empire into the scene of a sophisticated rave. And then, they leave.
After much clapping and cheering, the band reappears to play a particularly slow and gentle new song. It’s a slight anti-climax, but it makes Photoshop Handsome seem all the more thrilling.
Every single beat of this one is appreciated as everyone in the room gets singing, dancing and jumping along. They could play this song all night, and no one would complain. It is three minutes of uninhibited fun.
And then, like it or not, it really is over. It was sweet, but it was mighty short. There’s something very wrong about leaving a gig before quarter past 10 – a definite feeling that something is missing. If only they’d waited that little bit longer.
By Sophie Armour