An awe-inspiring display of talent and ambition
M83 - Live At Somerset House, London

Standing out from all the typical venues M83 are playing on their tour, with their sticky floors and sweat-stained walls, is Somerset House. A beautiful building just a stone’s throw from Charing Cross, this is the perfect setting for M83’s equally grandiose imaginings. Luckily, despite the weather being absolutely miserable in the time running up to the show, there were no showers here tonight. Clearly God has also taken a shine to M83’s transcendent melodies.

The first thing to be seen on stage, except the rising plume of smoke being pumped out, is a masked individual with lasers for fingers. Yes, you read that correctly, he had freakin’ lasers coming out of his fingers beaming off into the sky! Adorned with the mask seen throughout the ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’ advertising campaign and artwork, this was a barmy beginning to M83’s set, but a fitting one due to the pedigree of spectacle everyone was shortly due to witness.

Soon after, the band took to the stage opening with ‘Intro’. Much like most of M83’s other work it was pretty massive in every way. Massive, reverb laden, epic, synthy goodness; the dreamy expanse of their latest album translates extremely well into the live experience. This was followed by ‘Teen Angst’, from their third record ‘Before the Dawn Heals Us’, which also sounded great. Starting with synthesizer arpeggios before the drums and guitars kick in, launching off to somewhere in the far reaches of the Milky Way. This is a sensation felt over and over throughout the night; M83’s music has that well sought-after capacity to allow the crowd to drift away into the starry (but cloudy) sky above them.

This is the perfect time to play one of their more poppy, danceable numbers. ‘Reunion’ fits the bill perfectly, one of the more party-friendly tracks from ‘HUWD’, with its rollicking, cowbell infused percussion and Anthony Gonzales’ signature vocal call. Another dose of poppy goodness came later on in the set in the form of ‘Midnight City’. You know, the one used on Made in Chelsea. No? Okay, well it’s arguably the best song from their latest LP and was the lead single released to promote the album. A statement of intent for M83’s upwards trajectory, this is a stadium sized synth-pop anthem which is as impossible to sing along to in key as it is to resist.

Two of the standout performances of the evening came in the encore. The first of which was ‘Skin of the Night’, featured on their last album ‘Saturdays = Youth’. Opening with reverberating piano keys and ricocheting drums before going stratospheric with Morgan Kibby’s ethereal vocal, gradually adding a multitude of walls of sound; each one more entrancing than the last.

The final song to be played is ‘Couleurs’, a song that slowly shifts and contorts into an all-out scorcher. If you had managed to resist ‘Midnight City’ and ‘Reunion’ before it, there is no way you couldn’t find yourself thrusting your fist into the air triumphantly for this one and screaming “WE ARE NOT WORTHY!” at the top of your lungs. Calling in at just under ten minutes, this is a fitting end to the awe-inspiring display of talent and ambition that was M83 at Somerset House.

Words by George Boorman
Photo by Rosie Wadey

Click here for a photo gallery of the gig.

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