If you could pick a venue to see Beach House live, I don’t think you’d want to look much further than Albert Hall – in Manchester anyway. The closeness of the old chapel, together with the fuzzy, dream-like music seemed like the perfect match, and it just sort of worked. This was the venue chosen for the band’s third date on a fairly small European tour, following the release of latest record 7 last Spring and a host of Summer festivals.
We settled on the upstairs balcony and caught the end of the support act Wume – or as the Albert Hall website helpfully named them, ‘Wune’, leading down a dead-end Google search and into German translations, with what I thought was a very cool band name – wune means “a hewn hole in the ice” – though not the band I was looking for… Anyway, they had got a lo-fi, electronica, shoegaze sound which I liked and definitely worth a Spotify search. On the night, however, most of the treble was difficult to hear and admittedly, we struggled to really get into it.
Levitation, the opener to their 2015 album Depression Cherry, began the show for Beach House, normally a duo but accompanied by a drummer when they perform live. Lazuli and Dark Spring followed, and we were now settled into their familiar rhythm and sound. PPP saw Beach House at their trance-like best, with the prolonged outro that sent the audience into that shoegaze bliss they do so well.
The only downside was that these moments didn’t happen enough for me as the gig went on. Something about the tempo and dreamy sound sent me into a lull, and the rest of the gig washed over me. There’s a back-catalogue full of hits to choose from, and they brought them to bear, with notable mentions for Myth, Master Of None and Space Song. For the encore they played Norway and Dive, an old favourite, and probably the best song off the new album.
As we were leaving, others were saying how great the gig was, and I wondered whether sitting on the balcony rather than standing might have taken something away from the sound, like it noticeably did for the support. I was wanting to be completely immersed in Beach House, but in the end was left a bit wanting.