Cigarettes After Sex endure as one of the most captivating live acts around, writes Jay Plent
23rd November at Deaf Institute
Cigarettes After Sex have always been shudderingly romantic. Everything from their sound to their imagery to their mood evokes the tension and passion of a secret love affair, and every show they do feels just as intimate.
From the very start, the mood set is one of eerie anticipation. The stage set-up at Deaf Institute’s music hall is minimal, a simple tom, ride and snare combo for the drums, a keyboard, one mic, and amps for guitar and bass, and that is it. There is nothing to suggest that the sound coming from such a meagre set of instruments will be gigantic, and yet, like Cigarettes After Sex’s talent, the music is exactly that.
This is not to say that Cigarettes After Sex are an energetic live band — they aren’t. What emerges from the metaphorical mist the band swirls around themselves is a unique and poignant form of mood music, one which permeates every facet of the soul and sits there in your system like a rush of serotonin.
Their allure stems from honesty and modesty. Few words are exchanged, but the hint of a grin that takes over Gonzalez’s face at the end of every track (all of which are given a standing ovation) are communication enough. Particular highlights included the smoulderingly gorgeous ‘Affection’ and the sensational ‘Keep On Loving You’, a track which, unbeknownst to some, is a cover which vastly improves on its original counterpart by REO Speedwagon.
Elsewhere in the set, new tracks for the band’s as yet unannounced debut album mesh beautifully with the rest of the show. ‘John Wayne’ and ‘K’ were highly praised by the crowd and with good reason, although they did highlight the one criticism you would be fair to levy against the band, which is that the arrangements of their tracks are all very similar.
However this doesn’t really matter, and it certainly never detracts from the songs, which are, at their core, wonderfully written, wonderfully performed, and wonderfully received. Cigarettes After Sex are one of the most captivating bands around, and the audience was held tight from start to finish.