We Love Music: Editors @ 9:30 Club 2/21/10

courtesy of Editors

Editors made a glorious return to the 9:30 Club on Sunday night playing to a sold-out house of enthusiastic fans and soon-to-be converts. These dark, Brit-pop masters treated the crowd to a set mixing their passion-fueled back-catalog with their synth-focused latest, “In This Light and On This Evening“. The transitions between the new and old songs were not always the smoothest, but the sheer power and presence of one of the best performing bands around was more than enough to carry the crowd and the evening.

I have seen Editors on every tour and was particularly taken with their debut opening stint for Stellastarr* back in 2006. Since then Editors have put out a second great album of passion-pop, seen a ground-swell in popularity, and most recently embraced a dramatic stylistic shift on their new album. I don’t think anyone was expecting their hard left-turn into synth territory but it does not feel entirely out-of-place either. Tom Smith’s deep vocal style and the band’s over-all darker tone adjusts pretty easily from their trademark guitar to the new album’s near Gothic synth. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t skeptical going into Sunday’s concert. In fact I was not really sold on this synth-shift based on my album-play-through and I was hoping for this concert to provide me a final verdict on how I really felt about it.

Sunday’s show sold me on the new synth material but also reinforced the fact that Editors are a much better band when they stick to their guitars. Peppering the majority of the new album through-out their set; they sandwiched their new songs between double and triple shots of their classic guitar-based anthems. This made for some jarring transitions that amplified the alien, often colder nature of the new material. That said some of the new songs really did shine, particularly ‘Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool’. Often dismissed in album reviews due to its silly track name, the extended, kick-ass version of ‘…Raw Meat…’ played Sunday was a highlight of the show for me, eclipsed only by incredible performances of “Racing Rats” and “Bones”.

Editors are one of the great, modern, emotional pop bands. Witnessing Tom Smith’s vocal-passion fuse with the band’s sick sonics in a live setting can really be something special. Each Editors’ show I have been to has been incredible and, analysis of their new synth material aside, Sunday’s show was no different. The moment it all came together was about two-thirds through the set. The guitars had been pretty well flexed by material off of “The Back Room” and a few tracks from “An End Has A Start” and they had integrated the new songs pretty effectively by this point. Everyone was having a great time, myself included. And then they dropped the ‘Bones’ emotional/sonic A-Bomb on us. This song sounded and felt incredible on Sunday. Editors generated an awesome wash of sound that built up and around Tom Smith’s crooning and then stretched it out, letting Smith cry out “Retreat, retreat” with a mix of force and fragility over and over again to make for an honest and emotional vocal performance that is right up there with some of the greats.

There was more to follow, but by that point it was all gravy. Editors in concert rule (yeah, even their synth stuff) and I hope you read this and decide to catch them the next time they come to town.

Michael splits his free time between defending the little guy and championing the underdog. He has been haunting the concert halls, dive bars, and greasy spoons of DC for the last 16 years. His interests include live rock music, researching obscure military/political conflicts, and good hamburgers. He is a friendly grump, has wisdom beyond his years, and is on a life-long quest to attain music nirvana. Follow him on Twitter if you dare!

4 thoughts on “We Love Music: Editors @ 9:30 Club 2/21/10

  1. If you were in the very front to the left of the stage (in front of Chris Urb.), I’m pretty sure I was “kinda” a person behind you. I’ve managed to miss (for a ton of reasons, even while holding tickets!) Editors as many times as you have seen them (except for this tour) & am extremely jealous of the stellastar* tour b/c of both bands.

    At any rate – it took a long time from October until approximately January (when I was starting to prepare myself for this show) for me to get into them going straight from guitars to guitars & synth BUT being a huge Joy Division/New Order fan – this was not uncharted territory for my ears; however, I was pleasantly surprised with the way the synth songs were erratically placed within the set & being “jarred” was not such an unpleasant experience. Having said that, seeing them live was an incredibly emotional experience – for the drive up (I’m in Chapel Hill) I had butterflies in my stomach and an odd bit of what seemed to be pre-test anxiety (“Will I know every song on the set list!?!). I’ve only twice had those emotions at a concert (Bauhaus in NYC 2005 & Depeche Mode in CH, NC 1993). This was a huge deal for me & the guys did not let me down in the least. Unfortunately, “Papillon” was ruined for me due to the guys who looked as if they’d just enlisted into the army (nice dog tags fellows) who were a little too full of testosterone, beer, & dumb.

    At any rate, your review is perfect and am appreciative of another enthusiastic Editors fan who attended the show.

  2. I’m down with the review, and thought the show was great, and I likewise needed the concert to help finish processing the synth-shift.

    However, any review that doesn’t mention, even if it is for the thousandth time, the wicked speed and drive of their drummer is a bit incomplete to me.

  3. @KvonEerie – props for driving up from NC! That’s the kind of commitment to a band that I like to hear about! I agree the “Papillon boys” were a little much at the end there – but I am glad the rest of the show made your trip worth-while.

    @Arlington Aaron – Ed Lay is pretty damn ferocious behind that drum kit isn’t he?