The Garage, London
8th October 2009
Few bands have the audacity to pull off a live set that requires no encore and grants no encore. It’s a return to the old days of New Order’s ‘no encore’ policy and it’s something that Wild Beasts have re-instigated, or even just tonight granted, for it was an exquisite self-contained performance that only an encore could unravel. Unexpected too is the rise of these Leeds-based Wild Beasts. Their sophomore album, Two Dancers has turned out to be one of the most beautiful and arresting releases all years, as playful as a kiss on the lips, and as devilish as a kick in the derriere.
Having raised eyebrows with their debut Limbo, Panto last year this undeniably outré, and in some ways quaintly English, act have risen to their own heights. Two Dancers is an obvious rhythmic progression, more refined in structure, but in no way lacking in bravado as witnessed in the drunken reverie of “We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues” — “we got gusto/we are headstrong”. If there’s anything that Two Dancers is in lack of is gusto. They’re as if Robin Hood’s Merry Men suddenly picked up instruments and jugs of wine and began gamboling through the countryside, cheerily chanting and singing the praises of the town’s ladies like on recent single, “All The Kings Men“.
Onstage, their presence is anything but medieval, Hayden Thorpe, the possessor of that angelic octave-skipping falsetto that like their bass-lines, leapfrog around in song, could pass for an old school metal fan, with his cut off denim jacket and long blonde hair which seems just as unexpected as the words that fly from his mouth. Tempered by the baritone of Tom Fleming who plays centrestage tag-team with Thorpe through-out the night, as they take poetic license with their sex-laden lyrics, the delinquent delights that lurk in the lyrically devious “The Fun Powder Plot”, ‘this is a booty call’ he trills in one of the oft-quoted couplets all year ‘my boot, my boot in your arsehole’.
As much as Two Dancers is preparation enough for what to expect, the experience is still like turning over a stone and finding diamonds, enough to send you scrambling back to re-evaluate the camp theatrics of Limbo, Panto, something that not even the brave buoyant bulging clairvoyants among us were able to predict. Tying a neat ribbon around the evening with “Two Dancers II”, Wild Beasts take their bows and leave the stage. With the Garage packed to capacity, it seems they’re going to need a bigger cage.