Let me take you back to Hallowe’en of 2014. All manner of beasties are out in Manchester causing drunken mayhem, consuming more alcohol and drugs than their livers can take, until the night is over and the myriad werewolves, zombies and vampires retreat back to their lairs to hide away from the sun and their hangovers. In the midst of all of this, I was seeing The Antlers live in concert at The Ritz for a special concert. Befitting the night, the music played over the PA system before their emotionally impactful performance was formed of classic horror film soundtracks and keyboard/trumpet/synth player, Darby Cicci was wearing a skull mask. The rest of the night however, was in stark contrast to what was going on in the rest of the world.
Now, nine months since the conclusion of their tour, the experimental indie rock group have released the chronicle that allows fans to relive this concert – a limited edition, vinyl album; In London. The tour marked the release of Familiars – a nigh-perfect record that put listeners through the emotional wringer – and the live shows helped to accentuate this sentimental elicitation.
Such tracks as “Palace” – a beautiful piece of writing that sees Pete Silberman’s voice soar above a cacophony of piano, trumpet, guitar and drums – are only made better for the allowances made for the tempo changes and expanded arrangements a live setting grants, and even lesser songs, like “Surrender”, thrive in this setting.
The uncanny ability for bands, like The Antlers, to adapt and mould their older material to a new style is another quality that manages to ensconce an audience. This is displayed in such songs as “I Don’t Want Love”, where the Burst Apart track was adapted to fit into the sound that the group created for their latest studio recording. Even older tracks (such as “Kettering” from 2009’s Hospice) found their place in a perfectly formed set that created serenity on a night where the opposite is usually found in a near-lethal dose.
The album’s running time comes to an hour and forty minutes which, while it may seem extensive (or even over-zealous), allows for a completely immersive experience. The extended arrangements for each song means that each song becomes a part of one long piece where there is very little silence. A fitting example of this expansive approach comes with “Putting the Dog to Sleep” – a song that, on record is not quite six minutes long – as it is extended to an eleven-minute opus. This ability that Pete Silberman, Darby Cicci and Michael Lerner have is one that is yet to be matched. The only thing missing from this fantastic album is an ethereal rendition of Burst Apart standout, “Rolled Together” – a song that (having seen them perform before) translates beautifully when the band are in concert!
On that Hallowe’en night, the haunting trumpets, the delay laden keys and the limited use of jazz-influenced guitar allowed for anyone present to forget where they were; and this is what good live music does. It transports you away from the place you’re stood and takes you on a journey that leaves you questioning everything that goes on in the world. In London allows anyone to relive this experience and the sheer quality of the recording blurs the line between studio and live surroundings.