Live Review – The Dandy Warhols @ O2 Institute
The Dandy Warhols
Review by Ian Paget
The Dandy Warhols have always occupied a kind of space between the cool indie underground and mainstream alternative rock, able to fuse experimental styles with the kind of pop sensibilities that have allowed them the longevity to celebrate their 25th anniversary as a band and pack out venues such as the Institute tonight.
The four band members line up in a row at the front of the stage with frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor standing right next to drummer Brent DeBoer, who not only shares vocal duties but impressively also manages to play synthesizer pads and drums simultaneously on moody opener ‘Forever’ from their just-released tenth album ‘Why You So Crazy’. Taylor-Taylor welcomes the audience to their “first UK show as a 25-year old” jokingly lamenting “man, I gotta get a haircut!” before delving into the band’s back catalogue with ‘STYGGO’ and an excellent ‘We Used To Be Friends’, which sees keyboardist Zia McCabe coolly dancing behind her synths as the front row follow suit. As well as upbeat singles like ‘Get Off’ and ‘Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth’ making early appearances, there’s showings for lesser-known tracks such as ‘Crack Cocaine Rager’ and quirky country pastiche ‘Highlife’ featuring Zia on lead vocals, before she switches to bass for new tracks ‘Small Town Girls’ and ‘Motor City Steel’, songs which certainly don’t take themselves too seriously and bring to mind early Beck, fun curveballs to keep the audience on their toes.
After ‘Plan A’ and ‘You Were The Last High’, the set takes a turn for the downbeat, with ‘I Love You’ building up to a noisy ending as the shadows on stage are illuminated by a disco ball and guitarist Pete Holmström’s role becomes more prominent on the more psychedelic, shoegazey tracks like ‘And Then I Dreamt Of Yes’ and ‘Be Alright’, even playing his guitar with a bow on ‘Well They’re Gone’. Former Specials trumpeter Jon Read makes a guest appearance for fan favourites ‘Godless’ and ‘All The Money Or The Simple Life Honey’ before the Institute goes wild for ‘Bohemian Like You’ and ‘Every Day Should Be A Holiday’ as balloons drop from the venue ceiling and are batted around for the remainder of the set. The crowd are having fun, the band are having fun, and as ‘Boys Better’ brings a triumphant set to a close with Zia in charge of electronics, it feels like a celebratory chapter in the Dandy Warhols’ distinguished career so far.
Parisian trio Juniore open up the evening with a set of retro-sounding synth-based tracks in their mother tongue, which sound like they could be straight from the soundtrack of an old B-movie horror film with swirling synths and dark guitars from a man sporting a sinister-looking metallic mask. “Does anyone speak French?” asks singer Anna to a handful of cheers in the crowd, but language isn’t a barrier anyway when tracks like ‘Difficile’ and ‘Panique’ have spiky riffs and suspenseful vocals to engage with. Thanking the audience for listening before shuffling offstage, Juniore’s experimental sound is an intriguing introduction to the evening and they provide something a little different.