In some ways a band’s final steps are even more important than their first. LCD Soundsystem solidified their legacy with a titanic Madison Square Gardens show, The Band signed off with The Last Waltz, each helping to codify their catalogue with one final creative stamp.
Wild Beasts have always been one of British music’s more articulate, sensual experiences, so the Kendal group were never going to say farewell on a desultory, ambiguous, or unfulfilling note. Agreeing to call time on their years together after five albums of terrific music, the band have released one final EP and completed a small string of magical UK shows.
And it’s come to this. Performing without support, Wild Beasts welcome thousands of fans from across the country and beyond to Hammersmith Apollo for one final show, one final night – and it’s a soaring, peerless triumph.
Drawing on the full force of their catalogue, Wild Beasts seem able to express both the progression and creative unity that has propelled their work, dipping into debut album ‘Limbo Panto’ – “God knows why they gave that budget to a band like us,” Tom Fleming tells the crowd – while rushing all the way through to 2016’s ‘Boy King’.
It’s noticeable, too, just how much of a band, a collective Wild Beasts truly are. Drummer Chris Talbot’s insistent pulse underpins the set, while Hayden Thorpe’s other-worldly operatics are shadowed by Tom Fleming’s low lustre. Split into three parts, the demise of Wild Beasts are first seems surreal, difficult to comprehend.
Yet as the perfectly aligned 23 song performance rushes ahead, the mood shifts – through defiance, anger, and finally acceptance. As ‘End Come Too Soon’ collapses into a wall of feedback driven noise Wild Beasts embrace onstage, four friends gathered in a huddle, the weight of ten years pulsing out over the speakers.
It’s a strikingly moving scene – some of the band look visibly shaken, while members of the audience are openly weeping. As emotional – and enormously fulfilling – as this finale is, however, Wild Beasts have one last twist.
A choir is assembled, performing an a capella version of ‘Cheerio Chaps, Cheerio Goodbye’ while the band recover backstage. It’s a wry, impish move, whose message is clear: the songs live on, even though the group themselves have departed. With the lights going up and tears drying, it’s an exhaustive run through one of British music’s singular catalogues.
Where they go next – solo projects are mooted, through some may remove themselves from the limelight – is up to them, but the loss of Wild Beasts is something that will be felt keenly with each passing day. As Hayden Thorpe sang: “All we want is to feel that feeling again…”
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