It’s a familiar vision of the 80s. Whether you’ve lived through it or not, Nation of Language will instil an echo-soaked feeling of nostalgia.
It was clear that many people in the audience were there for that exact sentimentality. With fashion senses not evolving much past it, some ages emerging from it and some dancing that should have remained in it.
You could almost swear you’d heard all the songs before but you just couldn’t recall where. And any amount of trawling the back catalogue of Tears for Fears or Joy Division would just take you further down the rabbit hole.
It stems largely from the simplicity of the group. Between the Brooklyn trio, there’s a bouncing bass guitar, a monstrous synth with a timid drum machine and Ian Devaney’s fan-winning vocals to fill the gaps like expanding foam.
Let’s stay on the topic of Devaney. He moved around the stage like a plastic bag floating in the wind, with dance moves similar to someone dodging lasers on their way to steal the crown jewels, and boy could he sing. It was quite the spectacle, even if it was confusing at some points.
The flawless vocals have bought the band their success. It has to be. The stage presence as a group otherwise was a slow burner. There are a few awkward murmurs from Aidan and Alex, no fancy light show and not a huge amount of movement after Devaney, but everything seemed to make sense when he sang.
He filled the old theatre with his heavenly mellifluous tones that had you in amazement. And while there were no particularly stand-out songs, there was a real connection with the crowd around the halfway point from Sole Obsession, a new track from their upcoming album. September Again was a hit with the crowd, conjuring up football fan energy within the crowd howling the words back toward the stage.
In fact, all three of the latest singles appeared in the setlist, all received with welcoming Cabbage Patch dances (see gif below).
Bending into your eardrums are the experimental synth effects and sounds that you won’t find on their records.
Despite the bouncy beats and uplifting synths, the vulnerability behind some of their records pierced through creating a melancholy feel throughout the show, however, their talents triumphed.
The night continued with rising emotions and deeper connections with the audience until it concluded with shirts swinging overhead at the front; not something I foresaw, I must say. Though, if there’s any measure of a good show, being repeatedly whipped in the face by the guy in fronts shirt is definitely one of them.