By Elinor James
22nd October 2015
Icy spotlights singled out each member of Editors on stage at the start of their Manchester Academy gig. Tom Smith’s hands writhed snake-like around the microphone stand, his instantly recognisable vocals taunting, “I’ll boil easier than you, crush my bones into glue, I’m a go-getter”. ‘No Harm’ (from new album In Dream), the first of their 21-song set, was the potent first taste of Smith’s incredible voice. When plummeting into the lower octaves, Smith’s voice became addictive: An unusual nasal quality not often heard in such deep voices, permeated. He oscillated back and forth between the extremes of his huge vocal range all night—carrying everyone with him as he moved between emotions. Russell Leetch, bassist for Editors, was visibly buzzing too, and passion resonated from the rest of the band (Ed Lay on drums, Justin Lockey on lead guitar and Elliott Williams on keys, synth and backing vocals).
Four songs into their set, Editors burst into playing ‘Blood’ and ‘End Has a Start’ (both from earlier albums), which turned up the voltage somewhat as the crowd were reminded of Editors’ flair for discontented indie rock. Only seven out of 21 songs came from In Dream; Editors delighted their enduring fans with mostly old and well-known tracks. Around halfway, Smith performed a solo acoustic rendition of ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors’, compelling what sounded like most of the crowd to accompany with their own backing vocals, too. One lone hippie in front held up his lighter but then quickly decided against it.
There was an apparent lack of teenagers at the Academy for a change, which made sense considering it was in the mid-noughties that Editors’ magic had first bewitched the indie rockers. The darkness of the Academy was not itself splendid or remarkable, so Editors enchanted instead with their cunning light show. During frantic classic ‘All Sparks’, from 2005 debut album The Back Room, fiery oranges and yellows flashed from the back wall of the stage, funnily enough, just like the glow of “bouncing cigarettes burning on the road”.
Editors, as always, blasted their resigned anger at the crowd all night. However, guarded optimism also surfaced in songs from In Dream. New song ‘All The Kings’ used synth strings which were reminiscent of Elbow, and Editors slowly wound the crowd down with the final song from their new album, ‘Marching Orders’, which resonate reflection and, dare it be said—flickers of hope. Before leaving the stage, Editors bowed and reflected back the applause with obvious respect for their fans. This was the first time under the face-to-face spell of Tom Smith and the rest of Editors for me, but hopefully it will not be the last.
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