Andrew McAuley, Contributor
Beach House have certainly had a busy couple of months. August saw the release of their much anticipated fifth album Depression Cherry, and less than two months later to everyone’s surprise they released a sixth; Thank You For Your Lucky Stars. Known for their hypnotic melodies and Victoria Legrand’s soothing vocals, could the Baltimore duo light up the Mandela Hall on a very crisp October night?
Things started shakily with Legrand throwing lead guitarist Alex Scally a couple of laser-beam stares that would put the fear into Vladimir Putin but things soon settled down and it was business as usual. Ethereal is a word often used to describe Beach House and it certainly applies to their live show. On stage they are distant and laid-back and while this may not be everyone’s cup of tea the nonchalant approach compliments the dreamy music perfectly.
The set was perhaps a little to centred on Depression Cherry – while the album has been received fairly well some felt it was inferior to their previous work. That being said however the songs feel much fuller and more vital live. Shoegaze belter Sparks and the blissful Space Song particularly stood out. Never a band to engage in too much of a chin wag with the audience they gracefully floated through plenty fan favourites from their most popular albums, Teen Dream and Bloom providing a potent reminder of why they’re so revered within the indie community. The likes of Myth and Walk in the Park sounded as delightful as ever although perhaps too many of the group’s best tracks were packed into the first half of the set. Nevertheless 10 Mile Stereo was the perfect closer; taking on a life of it’s own when performed live the song evolves and mutates into a totally different beast.
Some believe Beach House haven’t sufficiently developed their music on their latest albums and have stuck a little too closely to their own unique formula. While the new albums certainly have their moments it would have been nice to see them expand more on the sounds they were hinting at with Sparks, as the song really does sound fantastic live. As a band they have a very solid catalogue however, and ten years into their career they can afford to cherry-pick quality tracks from each album.
The gig wasn’t a roller-coaster but that’s not what Beach House is about. They’re subtle, refined and most importantly immersive. Legrand’s voice is just as alluring live as it is on record and with performances like this Beach House will remain indie darlings for a long time yet.