REVIEW: Editors, O2 Academy, Newcastle

Editors at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.
Editors at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

To a casual observer, Editors have for some time appeared to be a band in decline.

So it was something of a surprise to see the venue packed out on Tuesday night as the quintet returned to promote their recent new fifth album, In Dream.

Perhaps it had something to do with the support act, for it seemed a significant chunk of the audience had turned out chiefly for The Twilight Sad.

A truly captivating live band, the Scots were making a quick return to the region following April's sensational appearance at The Cluny, and their showing here was every bit as good.

Their set time may have been shorter, but playing second fiddle did nothing to curb their performance, focused largely on last October's career-best LP Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave.

Brooding, melodramatic and eminently engaging, James Graham is the kind of frontman you daren't take your eyes off, enhancing the outstanding likes of Last January, Cold Days From The Birdhouse and And She Would Darken the Memory with his electric other-worldly stage presence.

They departed to deserved acclaim, but bigger crowds lie in wait; not least December's sold-out homecoming at Glasgow's Barrowlands and next year's US jaunt with The Cure.

For Editors, the decision to book such distinguished openers appeared a tad foolhardy.

I must confess I'd half expected them to be blown off their own stage, so it's to their great credit that they gradually set about proving me wrong.

The Birmingham band may not have fulfilled their potential in the studio, but their live shows follow a very different trajectory; something which in part can be attributed to the diverse electronic sounds explored in recent releases.

Editors at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Editors at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Indeed, aside from All Sparks (which is among the most convincing pastiches you're ever likely to hear), the Joy Division comparisons which have tailed Tom Smith and company from day one are levelled largely through laziness, with the likes of All The Kings and Ocean At Night bearing a spring one could almost mistake for exuberance.

Then there's their two ace cards, the brilliant mid-noughties indie-disco staple Munich and the technicolour synth stomp of Papillon - the latter in particular having developed into a huge live anthem.

At the other end of the spectrum, the group pulled off a masterstroke when they left Smith to deliver a solo rendition of Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors; a song whose emotive subject and delivery were ideally suited to this new stripped-back format.

If nothing else, it proved a marked improvement on previous visits, and whether through competition or experience it's clear they've upped their live game considerably.

Editors at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Editors at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Emerging triumphant from a slippery situation, their performance completed a terrific double-bill, and surprised a few sceptics - including this reviewer - along the way.

Editors at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Editors at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Editors at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Editors at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Editors at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Editors at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Editors at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Editors at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The Twilight Sad at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The Twilight Sad at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.