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Monday
Nov182013

Disclosure @ O2 Academy, Bristol (16th November 2013)

On November 16th after 2 months away, predominantly spent touring the US, Disclosure played their first headline gig back in the UK to a sold out crowd at the O2 Academy, Bristol. Support for the sibling duo came in the form of Liverpudlian House producer Friend Within and the enigmatic Australian breakout star of 2012 Flume. 

Unfortunately, after queuing for some time for both the cloakroom and the bar, by the time I had managed to make it to the centre of the crowd Friend Within had been and gone, his twitter sighting a scheduled performance in Portsmouth later that evening as responsible for a quick exit following his warm-up set. Flume, nonetheless, was afforded the luxury of playing for a little longer as his instantly recognisable use of ambient electro beats, rap samples and post-dubstep drops more than adequately prepared an already near capacity crowd for the main event.

By 9.45 when brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence (aka. Disclosure) finally took to the stage the excitement amongst the crowd was palpable and their eventual appearance instantly triggered a wave of whistles, cheers and applause from a predominantly under-25 audience. On stage and in position, the boys took a somewhat no nonsense approach to their performance, immediately launching into their first song, which took the form of ‘F For You’. While unarguably one of the lesser-known tracks from their chart topping debut album Settle, the track couldn’t have been a better demonstration of what exactly these boys can do, as they each used a variety of instruments to achieve the blurry synth chords, garage inspired beats and soft bass lines their music is so famous for. ‘F For You’ also offered a rare opportunity for Guy to show off his own vocal talents, a fact often overlooked given the duo’s predominant reliance on guest vocalists. While Howard made sure throughout the percussion was always on point, you couldn’t help but be impressed by the tenacity of the duo as in their first song alone they managed to switch between bass guitars, keyboards, drum pads, old fashioned symbols and a variety of synths with all the ease of an act who had been gigging for years. Their first song now out the way, Howard at last took the opportunity to properly address the crowd, barely able to contain his smile as he said, “it’s good to be back”.  Referring not only to Bristol, but to the UK more generally, it was refreshing to see two lads who despite an undeniably whirl wind like few months, were clearly ecstatic to be back in the country and embarking on a tour that would see them play to many of the fans whose online support forced them onto the playlists of Radio 1 and beyond in the first place.

As the duo then got back to business their sheer passion continued to spread infectiously through the crowd, the tempo rising with every track they played. It wasn’t until the pair dropped ‘You & Me’, however, that things really got going as the capacity crowd sang every hook back to the boys with ease, more than making up for the absence of featured vocalist Eliza Doolittle. There was little let up form there onwards either as the duo’s remix of Jessie Ware’s ‘Running’ as well as their own original tracks ‘What’s In Your Head’ and ‘White Noise’ ensured the crowd’s initially gentle 2 stepping quickly transformed into a seething mass of moving bodies bopping to the pair’s unique blend of rhythmic electro-pop. While noticeable absences from Disclosure’s set list did include the duo’s two latest, albeit unreleased, tracks Apollo and Together (Featuring Nile Rodgers, Sam Smith & Jimmy Naples), few in the crowd seemed to be complaining as the performance continued to move from strength to strength. What’s more it seemed the boys had one more surprise up their sleeves as just after announcing they had but one last song to play, they introduced, to much applause, the immensely talented Sam Smith to the stage. ‘Latch’ rounding off a set in which Disclosure proved once again that despite their viral success they are very much a band capable of thriving in a live environment, I couldn’t help but reflect on how far the 2 brothers from Reigate had come, since I had first seen them perform just 12 months ago at the same venue, but as the support act for SBTRKT, and to a crowd a nearly quarter of the size, who seemed more interested in buying drinks ahead of the main performance than watching Disclosure play.

Indeed, as the rise and rise of electronic music continues to complicate the issue of what can truly be considered a ‘live’ performance, many modern tracks simply incapable of being replicated in a fully live sense, Disclosure continue to find solutions and demonstrate a commitment to the art of performance that many artists seem to have forgotten. While they may not yet be The Rolling Stones, with a chart topping debut album now under their belt and a live act that even after four times watching I can’t seem to fault, I’m willing to bet this may jut be one electronic act that make the step up from O2 academies to stadiums, arenas and the real mccoy. 

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