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Cut Copy – Oval Space, London 26/11/13

December 11, 2013

Totally not impartial gig review #217 where I lost my shit

(photos by me from a 2011 Cut Copy show)

Cut Copy @ Roundhouse, Camden 27/10/11

“Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”

-Hunter S Thompson

This is my experience of Cut Copy live in many ways. I’ve seen them on numerous occasions; while promoting breakthrough LP In Ghost Colours, a beautifully paced and hugely special album that soundtracked my formative and more wild years. At festivals in the UK and further afield, squirming to the front row in an abandoned mine in rural Germany, to get a sneak peak of yet to be released new material. At the start and end of the Zonoscope era. And the tingling excitement is still there tonight prior to their show at Oval Space having released fourth LP Free Your Mind recently; rather self-indulgently (like this review will be deal with it) it’s like I’m anticipating the opening of my own memory capsule and all the nostalgic joy that brings, my life and Cut Copy’s intertwine so.

Relationships, friendships, shedding old character skin, starting new lives, hedonistic pleasures, darker times, long carefree summers, babies, ends, beginnings. My twenties. Everything. This all feels heightened as I’m there with a friend who introduced me to them in 2007 roughly, and have remained close ever since. We’ve been at all the aforementioned shows together, and Cut Copy have been the one consistent in our lives that have taken different paths. A moment during the gig sums up everything. ‘Strangers In The Wind’ finishes, the one understated track of the night. “This is the first track I played after my mum died” he states, tears fighting to get out behind the eyes (his mum having only passed one month or so ago at an age that’s too young) “I haven’t told anyone that”. Empathetic tears now form in my eyes. There’s a brief awkward pause, but this is followed by a pure moment of tenderness, and it’s too much. Love, joy, empathy, deep nostalgia; yup, very much the themes of Cut Copy. These four dudes on stage who have concocted all this will never know how much that moment meant. Our emotional bubble is pricked by the next twinkly party synth that sets up the next track – screw it there’s dancing to be done and fun to be had right?

The title track from the album opens tonight following some brief dialogue from an old film (that features throughout the album) – an album that contains a strong 90’s house vibe, a subtle adjustment from the pure 80’s synth-fuelled pop of IGC and the 70’s Fleetwood Mac charms that sprinkle throughout Zonoscope. Oval Space beholds a very different feel to previous Cut Copy shows that I’ve experienced at Koko, The Forum, Roundhouse et al; the warehouse vibe and brick wall backdrop mirroring the kaldeioscopic rave-soaked mood of the album. Dan Whitford even sports a bomber jacket at the start (that quickly comes off) as a wind machine blasts his hair and wild lights beam off clouds of smoke. Gone is their consistent opener of the last few years that is the soft, spacious and short ‘Visions’ – only one minute in and the gig has a wholly different feel to past Cut Copy. A definite split with the past.

Cut Copy @ Roundhouse, Camden 27/10/11

It quickly transpires that despite a new approach, this is very much a greatest hits set that’s been mapped out for maximum audience pleasure as underlined in a trio of ‘Where I’m Going’ into ‘Feel The Love’ into ‘In Memory Capsule’; all from three different albums. Inevitably it’s the older favourites that get the greatest reception with a serotonin double bubble of ‘So Haunted’ and ‘Hearts On Fire’ from IGC – Oval Space explodes into a kinetic sea of jumping fanboys/gurls who belt out every lyric to lung capacity bursting point as Whitford flings his body about onstage, reaching his gangly arms to the sky and giving every track like it’s his last. It’s been said on these pages recently (at the Baths gig), but huge kudos to the sound people at Oval Space for giving Cut Copy the crystal clear delivery that their work demands.

What’s noticeable is how well Zonoscope has aged – ‘Need You Now’ joining the euphoric pop pillars of the aforementioned IGC numbers, with it’s delightful nuanced build until the crescendo after five minutes in erupts into a heavenly acid-house sing-a-thon. The highlights are numerous; the primitive drum thrashing from ‘Corner of the Sky’, to the surprise and very welcome choice of ‘Strangers In The Wind’ (as discussed), while new number ‘Show Me Your Love’ sounds refreshing and a hugely promising prospect – like a condensed pop version of behemothic and indulgent number ‘Sun God’ that doesn’t get played tonight. We even have time for a bit of Bright Like Neon Love love, in the form of ‘That Was Just a Dream’.

Post-encore the night ends on another devastating double header as highlight of FYM ‘Meet Me In A House Of Love’ and its pacey sax solo intro bleeds into the monumental ‘Lights and Music’ – a track that always kills. “Into to the night/Into forever/Let’s come together like the brightest stars”. It’s all over. Smiles bounce across the room. Woops ring out. Arms hover in stasis above the body, unsure whether to clap, grab something, or continue moving in an aimless flow. Hands run through sweaty hair. An exhausted exhilarated atmosphere sets in the air. The lights come up.

Lyrically and aesthetically it’s all very clubby and druggy (particularly anything from Free Your Mind), with words such as: “hearts, meet me, lights, sun, sunrise, sky, take my hand, forever, dream, colours, journey, love (numerous times), together, into the night” and many more oft repeated throughout. It is on the surface of things big, dumb, fun electropop. Hey but you know what? It’s music that you don’t need drugs at all to enjoy – Cut Copy have crafted something so ecstatic, euphoric and intense that the music in itself is the biggest high you can get. Influenced by MDMA but enjoyed anytime of day.

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