Gig Review by Fran Prince with Photography by Carolyn Brown

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A dense colony inhabited Birmingham’s O2 Institute on Friday night, long-anticipating the indie-tronic hums of Oxford’s alt-rock band, Glass Animals. Headlining their very first Birmingham gig, their colossal fan base (unbeknown to me) penetrated my ear-drums upon the lad’s entrance to the stage.

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Plummeting us into darkness, the hue of a green strobe submerged us into an exotic jungle, parallel to the tribal like vibes of first song Life Itself. The infectious rhythms moved the audience into an instantaneous psychedelia of trippy hysteria.

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Hypnotising frontman Dave Bayley exuded euphoria via his absorbing stage presence – occupied by the electro-dance ambience much like the entrancing chaos of Years and Years. The bands intricate layering of percussion and synthesised vocals created a strangely satisfying melodic chaos of sounds.

Causing an excited anticipation, like a dripping tap, the instrumental start to Hazey – complete with tambourine – brought about a unique oriental element unheard of in English music.

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Reaffirming their diversity, an intriguing Poplar St hosted guitar riffs resonant of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, whilst The Other Side Of Paradise transported us into an 80’s arcade game, with an electro-dance rock intro which motivated Bayley to defy gravity and climb on top of a towering amplifier.

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The eccentric set was a striking hybrid, built up of large artificial cacti and drums with a watermelon styled skin similar to their album art, all sat beneath an overpowering pineapple disco ball which made reference to song ‘Pork Soda’ and mirrored the rave like lightshow throughout.

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Toes and Gooey threw us back to debut album Zaba which evoked a chilled out, colourful fluidity of sounds which the audience seemed to lose themselves in.

Tracks like Youth, have a distinctive story to tell, a characterisation in this case. Much like the childlike counterpart demonstrated in the music video, Bayley embodied the free spirit of adolescence; in fact, the entire album How to Be a Human Being radiated an energetic or erratic state of mind, inspired by stories of youth, drugs and emotion.

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Declaring Agnes his favourite track, Bayley sung in unison with his fans as they repeated his every word. Risking his limbs being torn apart by the frenzied audience he performed amongst the audience stepping aboard the barriers and ending the set.

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Predicting an animated crowd, the band left for an encore as “We want more!” unfolded across the congested room, and the band re-entered to an ocean of applauds.

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The set list, a fragmentation of electro-pop, dance-trance, and alt-rock elation, was a live deconstruction of genres. It seems to me recordings neutralise the bands talent, this groups substance is in their live gigs, and they are worthy of being on our radars.

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