Saturday 14 April 2012

Angels & Airwaves // Le Blorr - Live Review, Leeds 02 Academy

The doors aren’t open for a while but the crowd circles the outside of The Academy in Leeds; murmurs of excitement run through it ahead of tonight’s 02 show. They write albums, write film scores, work on graphic novels and are now in the UK for a select string of dates: yes, Angels and Airwaves [AVA] are back.

Before the quartet takes to the stage however, Tom DeLonge, lead singer of AVA has a little treat in store for the fervent crowd. Welcome to the stage “The B*****d Lovechild of Rock n Roll” aka, “Le Blorr”, aka the band hand selected and championed by Tom himself as sole tour support. Le Blorr couldn’t be further away from AVA’s blend of “alternative space rock” and takes the crowd here in Leeds by surprise. It’s so rare to have a varied bill such as this, and as they take to the stage they are ready to attempt to win over the vast crowd in front of them. This is the Satellite beach trio’s first time touring in the UK and storm the stage, playing tracks from their EP “Bim Bom”.
Le Blorr's Adam 
The distorted, echoic beginnings of “Boy You Need Jesus” slowly build to Chris “Cookie” Hess’ piercing vocals, before falling away again into a frenzy of psychedelic sounds and drummer, Adam “Hot Damn” Winn’s complex heavy percussion.   
Le Blorr's Chris on stage in Leeds
Harking back to the sounds of glam rock, blues and synth-pop is what allows Le Blorr to take on this fresh sound and honest authenticity. Zac “Sugar Butter” Sullivan’s backing vocals and silky moves confidently guides Le Blorr through the set and songs such as the layered “Booty Making Baby Shakin” and melancholy single “Seven Sisters”. The audience, once readjusted to Le Blorr’s unique and dynamic sound forget that they are waiting for AVA and are willing and eager to accept the blend of psychedelic rock riffs and piercing vocals which they offer. The band seemingly gains a vast array of fans tonight, many of whom probably thought that the chances of them liking something so different to AVA would be slim. Le Blorr come out of left field this evening, but Hot Damn, Cookie and Sugar Butter are definitely three guys to watch out for.

Angels and Airwaves’ introduction, nothing short of epic, inspires the crowd’s anticipation ten fold; sci-fi based melodies welcome the band to the stage. The crowd is rapturous and ready to go on the journey that the band are ready to take them on. The resounding introduction belongs, of course, to “Saturday Love”, and the entire venue is already singing along word for word with Tom. Not only playing from their most recent album, “Love: Part Two”, AVA also present an array from their back catalogue, sliding songs such as “It Hurts” (from their debut release) into the set.
Tom DeLonge on stage at Leeds Academy
Lit from behind, smoke pouring out around them, for the majority of the set the band’s faces are hidden and their bodies mere silhouettes against the cyclorama. A band obsessed with space travel and the world beyond Earth, the show suspends reality and transforms the four musicians on stage to astronaut like figures. The theatrical nature of the live show allows you to both sit back and watch in awe and surprise at the nature of what AVA do on stage, but at the same time draws you in to share in their vision and experience. Front man Tom steps out from his guitar on “Surrender” and guitarist David Kennedy, bassist Matt Wachter and (most recent member), drummer Ilan Rubin confidently steer the set forward. AVA’s idea and concept comes into fruition on crowd favourites “The Adventure” which then flows effortlessly into “Everything’s Magic”. 

David Kennedy on stage in Leeds
Pre-AVA, the members have all worked on a variety of projects; Blink 182, Lostprophets and 30 Second to Mars, to name a few, and tonight fans range from all areas of their careers. However, all are united this evening; “Hello, here I am and here we go, life's waiting to begin” the venue sings in harmony. AVA are focussed, speaking very little in-between songs, intent on letting their music speak for them. The band disperses and Tom is left alone on stage, reciting a story of his teenage years working in a chicken shop, skating and daydreaming about his friend’s sister, before breaks into a rendition of Boxcar Racer’s “There Is”, a track that soars into the crowd.  The full band re-enter on to the stage and end the set with the melodic and building AVA song “Secret Crowds”.

AVA front-man Tom DeLonge
“Tonight has been a wonderful experiment”, a computer generated voice announces as AVA return for an encore to a cacophony of cheers. An impressive piano solo from Ilan on “All That We Are” preludes the closing song “The War”. Tonight AVA immersed the audience into their vision and allowed the room to be enveloped in this space-like concept. 

The audience were allowed to become part of this vision for the duration of the show. Mission complete! 

To learn more about Le Blorr's music, where they got their nicknames from and their love for Marc Bolan click HERE to read our full interview. 

Photo credit: Danny Peart Graphics