LIVE REVIEW: Modest Mouse, O2 Academy, Newcastle

Modest Mouse at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.
Modest Mouse at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Modest Mouse rolled into Newcastle’s O2 Academy on Thursday night, and for many fans their arrival was long overdue.

It wasn’t so much that this was their first visit to the region in five years, but rather that that drought should have been broken in 2013.

Back then, the Washington DC band were booked to play an eagerly-awaited show at The Sage Gateshead, only to duck out, citing the need to apply finishing touches to their upcoming sixth studio album.

That, though, wasn’t enough for some ticket holders, whose scepticism will only have intensified given that it took until March this year for said record, Strangers To Ourselves, to surface.

It’s an explanation which remains a point of contention, and tonight resulted in the somewhat odd situation of this popular, hugely-acclaimed indie-rock outfit taking to the stage with a point to prove.

Their support acts didn’t exactly help matters either.

First up, big-voiced Californian Elle King lent her hefty pipes to a crunchy blues backdrop, while teenage Minnesotan quartet Hippo Campus went down a storm with their youthful yet improbably-accomplished jangles.

Luckily, Modest Mouse’s catalogue possesses the strength to make light work of such predicaments, and so it proved over the course of an excellent show lasting upwards of two hours.

And with frontman Isaac Brock celebrating his 40th birthday, the six-piece were in real crowd-pleasing mood - even when half had to leave as they vastly overshot the venue’s 11pm curfew.

It was a real dilemma, with punters torn between the need to catch their last buses and trains and joy at being confronted with that iconic winding intro to 3rd Planet.

Even those who couldn’t last the distance, however, comfortably received their money’s worth.

Indeed, while well represented across the 20-song setlist, new songs were never aired at the expense of old favourites, with the likes of Gravity Rides Everything, Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes and of course Float On all receiving welcome airings.

The Academy and its muddy sound may have been an inferior alternative to The Sage, but Modest Mouse were still able to summon their effortless onstage energy, whether through the choppy Dashboard, Brock’s volatile vocal performances or members fleeting between instruments on an almost song-by-song basis.

Certainly, it was enough to defuse any lingering ill-feeling, and while their drawn-out set may have frustrated some, it’s blasphemy to complain about a band - especially one celebrating their singer’s birthday - playing for too long.

* Picture courtesy of Katy Blackwood. See more of her work HERE.