The average Saturday night might offer three bands. But this Saturday, down at the Adelphi, was certainly no average night out.
The back wall of the stage area, where usually you can read those names of previous visitors to the venue, was covered by a large white sheet. As I arrived, an image of moving liquid – not unlike that in a lava lamp – swirled across the fabric. It was serene and calming, especially with the room darker than I’d ever seen it before.
The Dyr Sister took to the stage first, with the backdrop of Zach Walker’s cymatic projections. As she looped together vocals and various instruments, powder and liquid bounced in the background, creating a visual representation of the sound. At first, I wasn’t sure it was in time, but slowly realised that it was merely my brain not connecting sound and image together as one.
Swelling in size and filling the room, the audience had to move forward during the first song, shuffling tables and stools closer to the stage These eager participants were able to enjoy popular songs such as “The Devil Draws in Crayola” as well as her newest tracks, available on her Christmas EP, “Coventry Carol” and “Yule Cat”, about a spritely animal who’ll gobble you up if you don’t buy the children new garments for Christmas. Sadly, those stood further back were less interested in these strange and traditional tales, loudly discussing their own. It could so easily have put everyone off, but instead performers and audience members alike ignored anything which wasn’t on the bill.
The final song of her set, “The Siren” was perfectly matched with what appeared to be a visual display of water reacting to the bass beat.
For Copenhagen, there were no visuals. Instead, creating an auditory demonstration of thumping tunes. Copenhagen are not the most energetic of performers. This is usually something which puts me off a live band, but it fit well with the busy Adelphi and the focus from the musicians ensured that the music was of the highest quality. They performed seven songs, all of which had the audience enthused and actively – at the very least – tapping their feet.
Halfway through the set, lead singer Kurt Gurnell announced that they were “going to wind things up a bit”, and they certainly did. Not ones to tease, all four instruments were thrown back into life, quickly adding vocals to create their heavy rock sound; guitar lead but with a punchy bass beat from the drums.
Following Copenhagen, the stage was quickly transformed, with all instruments and much of the sound equipment stripped away. I’d never seen the Adelphi stage look so big, as James Orvis stood behind his mixing desk and Zach Walker pulled his apparatus forward. No longer masked behind the stack of speakers, people eagerly discussed the science behind his artwork.
Central to the stage, Alice (the other half of Paris XY) was framed by the visual projection. I saw now why it wouldn’t have worked as spectacularly for Copenhagen, as she cast a silhouette into the circle of light.
The experience of a Paris XY performance is difficult enough to explain: a tantalising mixture of electronic sounds with the haunting harmony of Alice’s voice and her entrancing movements on stage. So, add in that extra layer of visual stimulus, and the dimensions of your response are multiplied.
Whatever the sixth sense is, I think I felt it during their third track. Alice seemed almost entranced by their music, captivating the audience as she moves in her own liquid formation. In the background, lights bounced, flickering like spits of lava in oranges and deep blues, further emblazoned as the smoke machine sent a grey cloud rippling to the back of the room.
Dressed all in black, with the darkness of the room, and the focus of the lights on the projection, songs such as their new single ‘Wytching Hour’ became even more haunting, eerily beautiful and electrifying. At one point a green robotic figure appears behind the stage, seeming to dance with the ethereal spectre of Alice’s shadow. What were probably the simplest elements of the set-up were made to feel complex, while those which were more complicated seemed to work so simplistically. All together, the experience was, as promised, a feast for the senses. Use of less condense matter, liquids rather than solids, were used to capture the sound of the faster songs, rippling across the screen as the sound ripped into your soul, flowing through your veins.
With such a succession of sound, the ending seemed too sudden. Even Paul Jackson was screaming for more, and so they played for another several minutes until hands of the clock signalled the witching hour itself.