Editors At The Olympia Theatre – Review And Photos
The opulent surroundings of Dame Street’s Olympia Theatre has become something of a Dublin home for Editors. Having first taken to its hallowed stage back in 2007, tonight’s sold out show is their fifth time headlining the famous venue. Touring in support of new album In Dream, it’s clear that Editors have become one of those great cult bands who despite no longer garnering much mainstream media support or radio airplay, still retain and build a vast fanbase. Given the quality of their output over the past decade, the only surprise is that they haven’t amassed a much larger following in these parts, similar to that of fellow British bands Muse and Radiohead. Whilst operating at mid-level venues in Ireland and their homeland, the band are superstars in continental Europe, with numerous No.1 albums, festival headline slots and sold out arena shows.
Taking to the stage in low key fashion, immersive atmospheric opener ‘No Harm’ is played out in hushed respectful silence. Like it’s recorded version, it gradually builds tension over 5 minutes, before the band kick into the stomping ‘Sugar’ to really get the night underway. Tonight’s stage and production setup is the right blend of dramatic and intimate. A plain grey wall-like backdrop is augmented by a selection of dazzling strobe lights flanking the stage which helps ensure the music is always the main focus of the show. A shrewd decision, as Editors have quietly amassed a terrific collection of songs over the course of their career. The band’s previous record, 2013’s The Weight Of Your Love, was an ambitious but flawed comeback for the band after a four year absence. Moments of brilliance were offset by a distinctly underwhelming latter half. Thankfully, only the record’s best cuts are utilised tonight. ‘A Ton Of Love’ is incendiary in its live form, it’s ‘U2 meets Echo and the Bunnymen’ swagger is as close as Editors get to stadium rock. The uptempo full band rendition of ‘Nothing’ is also thrilling, whilst simultaneously frustrating as it is one of tonight’s standout songs, all bouncing synth lines and anthemic choruses, yet the band made the baffling decision to record it as a stripped down strings and vocals ballad.
Frontman and chief creative force Tom Smith is undoubtedly the star of the show. A gifted songwriter and lyricist, he also makes for a truly mesmerizing frontman. A curious mixture of the stadium rock posturing of Chris Martin and the aloof enigmatic showmanship of Michael Stipe, he stalks the stage with real presence manically eyeing the crowd, the music at times seems to pulsate through every vein in his body. Some early tracks get an airing tonight amongst the more recent cuts. With the band’s debut album The Back Room now ten years old, ‘Blood’ and ‘Munich’ are greeted warmly by the audience. Early fan favourite ‘Fingers in the Factories’ also makes a surprise appearance. Whilst some fans may rejoice at the inclusion of old songs, there is the nagging feeling of the band going through the motions. The intensity of the performance wanes slightly and it is worth noting is how dated some of the old tracks sound when placed alongside the new material. The exceptions being ‘The Racing Rats’, which still retains its original menacing atmosphere, and a solo acoustic rendition of ‘Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors’ which is an expected treat.
Tonight’s set however is all about the present. Heavily focused on new release In Dream, no fewer than eight of the album’s ten tracks are getting an airing. Some are terrific, ‘Ocean of Night’ sounds like the darker moody cousin of Coldplay’s ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’ with its bouncy trance pianos and synth riffs (and a seemingly direct reference in its lyrics ‘gaze at the skyline under an ocean of stars’). ‘Forgiveness’ has an irresistible hip-hop vibe with an excellent chorus vocal hook ‘The line in the sand ain’t drawn for everyone, the flag in your hand don’t make you American’. ‘Life is a Fear’ channels 80’s synth pop, and ‘Our Love’ showcases a more playful and sexier side to the band. Some new songs, however, don’t quite hit the target with ‘All The Kings’ never really taking flight.
A full-fat rendition of 2009’s dance-flavoured hit ‘Papillion’ almost lifts the roof off the venue before recent U2-esque single ‘Marching Orders’, complete with its thrilling carnival drum outro, brings the show to a triumphant climax. With the new record released only days prior to the show, there was always going to be some audience unfamiliarity, but Editors have enough show stopping moments in their armoury to ensure the show’s energy never drops for long. Having reinvented their sound over time, Editors have kept things fresh for both themselves and their audience, and the majority of those in attendance will be eagerly awaiting the band’s next appearance on these shores. Overall, a tremendous show which will go down as one of the real standout Irish gigs of 2015.
Photos by David Doyle
Review by Gary O’Donnell