Celebrating a US Billboard top ten
Beach House - Live At Village Underground, London

On the day Beach House take to the stage in London, they reach number seven in the US Billboard for new album ‘Bloom’, tucked neatly between ‘Now 42’ and something by those Glee people. It also reaches number one in the independent charts

Across the Atlantic, in a disused tube depot that has been baking in the sun all day, they play to a sell-out crowd, who snapped up tickets for this special Village Underground night in about an hour. Even the touts outside are struggling to find spares.

So that’s one hot band playing one very hot venue. With ‘Bloom’ having been out for just a week or so, Beach House’s new material isn’t that well known, apart from a few radio plays and an appearance on Jools. It doesn’t matter. The packed crowd lap up the trademark drone of dream pop and the echoing, bellowing vocals of Victoria Legrand. Alex Scally’s ambient guitar and Legrand’s swelling electric keyboards and beats, accompanied by a live drummer, sound huge, immense and intimate in this smallish venue.

The band appear in front of giant wind fans (that unfortunately aren’t on to get some air on the poor souls watching), with their faces cast in darkness and their bodies nothing more than shadowy figures occasional lit by a flash of strobe. It just adds to the fantasy.

The first few tracks played, taken from the new album, go down a storm. ‘Wild’, with its toy-like percussion and pop hit chorus, reassures the crowd that the sound hasn’t ventured too far off last album ‘Teen Dream’ while ‘Lazuli’ shows that Beach House can push its music into more euphoric plains, although its rich Fleetwood Mac backing is lost here.

While the band is here to showcase its new stuff, there is still room for the songs that thrust Beach House into the underground mainstream (if there is such a thing). ‘Walk in the Park’ and ‘Norway’ are met with rapturous cheer, the latter really making the night come alive.

It’s a shame a technical hitch brings everyone down a peg or two, not helped by the fact that the band have no chat whatsoever! An attempt at a story about a cow and a giant Starbucks coffee doesn’t go down too well and there is a sense of awkwardness. “Shit happens every day,” Legrand says after failing to keep her adoring fans amused.

But ‘Gila’, from second album ‘Devotion’, and new number ‘Equal Mind’, only heard as a B-side to ‘Lazuli’, bring back the magic, with Legrand’s voice sounding angelic, earthy and simply beautiful on the higher notes rarely heard on the newer albums.

As the show draws to a close, the band’s finest moments sweep away its listeners. ‘The Hours’, ‘Silver Souls’, ‘Wishes’, ‘New Year’ and, of course, ‘Zebra’ are a perfect mix of old and new, with the live percussion and occasional starry night lighting adding to the ambience of a very special performance.

Closer ‘Myth’, the first single from ‘Bloom’, riles up the crowd before a three-song encore. ‘Turtle Island’ again pushes Legrand’s vocals to new heights, verging on a scream, while ‘10 Mile Stereo’ blows everyone away. The night ends without a goodbye and with the slightly sombre ‘Irene’, the end of ‘Bloom’ and the end of this show. It’s a bit of a shame given the high of the song before, but it marks the end of this superb night, which London will rarely see the likes of by Beach House again.

Words by Gemma Hampson

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