Homecoming show...

There’s no place like home, you can’t go home again..

The list of clichés for a hometown show is endless. It’s a common enough routine – witness Oasis at Maine Road, Pulp in Sheffield etc etc – and it lends itself to a preset lexicon, a pre-determined dialogue.

At its root, though, the hometown show remains a fascinating proposition. This is the first time I’ve ever been to Southend (I’m Scottish, see) and it’s remarkable just how easily the place fits into my preconceptions. A fusion of Georgian and Brutalist architecture, 50s diners have been transposed into Costa Coffeehouses while the modern art / living space in the centre is a headache built out of concrete. If you were young, creative and chock full of ambition it’s a place you might well want to escape from. Fast.

So The Horrors are understandably a bit, well, angsty when they emerge onstage. Having long since outgrown the humble confines of Chinnery’s, the JD Roots project has coaxed them into one final set at their old stomping ground.

They don’t exactly look happy about it. “I’d love to say it’s good to be back home” Faris Badwan insists, “but we’re not from here”. Pedantic, perhaps – he’s from another village two miles down the road – but the underlying sentiment, the sheer constrained anger is difficult to ignore.

Pushing into ‘Mirrors Image’ it’s clear that there’s a very special energy rippling through the band. The first time they’ve played a venue as small as this – in Britain, at least – for some time, The Horrors seem to re-capture something fundamental, something primeval about what they do. Faris Badwan leers towards the crowd, his eyes blazing through the front row as ‘Who Can Say’ blazes all around him.

The set naturally leans towards albums #2 and #3, but the material has yet to lose its magic. The focal point is ‘Sea Within A Sea’, the track which seemed to indicate that The Horrors were more than just drainpipe jeans and a smoke (or hype) machine. Veering between the twin poles of noise and melody, the Krautrock rhythms come to the fore during a brutal – Brutalist – rendition.

Departing from the stage amid a wealth of feedback and confusion, The Horrors stumble back on for the obligatory encore – except this time there seems to be a real intent. Waving goodbye to their hometown, the band end the show with belching garage of ‘Moving Further Away’; escaping Southend one last time, you can’t help but feel they’re trying to tell us something...

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