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Concert Review: Editors and stellastarr*

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I am not usually the first in on the new bands. I usually wait for some of the other esteemed music bloggers to sift through the 50,000 CDs they receive in search of good music. Once I read some particularly glowing review of a song, complete with an MP3 download, I give it a listen and go from there. That’s how I came upon Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Sufjan Stevens, Wolf Parade, Band of Horses etc.

Editors is a band that doesn’t fit that description for me. I read about them in early 2005, well before their debut album The Back Room, was even released in the U.K. A short blurb in one of the British music magazines likened the band to (surprise) Interpol and Joy Division, which was enough for me to go searching for the mp3s on line. I first wrote about them way back (in blogging years) in July of last year:

Editors are releasing their debut album, The Back Room, later this month. What I’ve heard so far is amazing. Their current single “Blood” has this gem of a lyric–”Blood runs through your veins, that’s where our similarity ends. Blood runs through our veins.” The music is at times Joy Division, and at times U2, thanks to some icy guitar riffs. Can’t wait for these guys to come to the States.

In some ways, it feels like forever since I first heard their music. I mean, shit, I wrote about Clap Your Hands Say Yeah in the same post and I have seen them 32 times since. Editors? No such luck. With the exception of a couple of NYC shows earlier this year, they had not played in the States, until now.

The show last night at The Trocadero was billed as a co-headliner for both stellastarr* and Editors. Mobius Band opened. stellastarr* definitely had a nice following there, and some folks who came for them didn’t stick around for Editors. stellastarr* played a mix from their self-titled debut album, as well as songs from 2005’s Harmonies For The Haunted. They sounded great, especially lead singer Shawn Christensen, who has an amazing voice. And they looked great, too. Specifically, bass player and all around hottie Amanda Tannen.

I overheard more than a few folks who stuck around asking, “Who is coming on next? Editors? Never heard of ’em”. Credit the complete lack of radio support in Philly for any indie music. I’m not even sure NPR station WXPN is playing Editors.

The band came out and played the majority of The Back Room, including crowd pleasers “Munich”, “All Sparks”, “Blood”, “Bullets”, and closing the encore with “Fingers in the Factories”. The only song I really wanted to hear that they didn’t play was “Someone Says”.

I fully expected Editors to be pretty boring on stage, and definitely not interact with the audience. More shoegaze than sweat, if you will. However, they were the complete opposite. Frontman Tom Smith is a young Dave Gahan, dancing around on stage and really getting into the show. If I didn’t know the band better, I would really appreciated the fact that he practically introduced every song by name, which really helps when you’re trying to download the songs off of iTunes when you get home from the show. Lead guitarist Chris Urbanowicz was very attentive to the audience, going so far as to share his half consumed Yuengling Lagers to the faithful up front. One can only hope it was merely a gesture of goodwill, as opposed to a rejection of a Philly tradition.

I glanced around near the end of the show to see how those who hadn’t heard of the band were reacting. They were still there, enjoying the hook-filled songs that make Editors such an enjoyable band to listen to. There is no initiation period; no need to listen to the album 5 times to “get it”. The songs come right out and grab you the first time you hear them. The combination of an electric live performance and a solid repertoire of well written tunes for a young band make this one of the best shows I’ve been to in some time.

Interested in more?

More pictures from the show are available for your viewing pleasure. And don’t forget to check out a review of The Back Room.

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About Matt Freelove