M83 at Ogden Theatre, with I Break Horses, 4/30/12
Tom Murphy M83 at Ogden Theatre last night.
M83 @ OGDEN THEATRE | 4/30/12
See Also: Q&A with Maria Linden of I Break Horses
The familiar strains of "Intro," from 2011's Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, probably should have been our clue that the band was coming on. But instead, someone dressed up as the creature from the album insert walked on like a tall combination of the Mothman and one of those My Little Monster dolls. The creature came center stage and raised its arms to the tune of Zola Jesus singing the words in the triumphant and expansive tone of the song for a surreal but playful moment before the band strolled on to start the show off with the breezy and haunting "Teen Angst."
Tom Murphy Anthony Gonzalez of M83 at Ogden Theater
The stage set for this show really emphasized the personal-drama-writ-large aspect of the band's music and created a visual dreaminess and dynamism to the whole show, with the angled light columns illuminated from within. That, combined with the circular LEDs in at least two banks, one closer down to the band and those higher up toward the ceiling, provided contrasting colors and a visual vibrancy that boosted the impact of all the music. It was not unlike the visuals that Francis Ford Coppola used in his film One From the Heart, a lot of neon-looking lights to fit the kind of vintage synth sound of the band.
Tom Murphy Morgan Kibby of M83 at Ogden Theater
This was more of a rock show than you'd expect from this band, but the emotional delicacy was still there. The quiet section of "Graveyard Girl," when the young woman laments being fifteen and feeling like it's too late for her to find love, struck a chord in anyone who can still remember being so young and thinking everything was a crisis simply because you lack the perspective to know otherwise.
M83's music has always seemed like a salve to that side of a person's psyche, saying it's okay to have that ridiculous moment, because life is nothing if not for the times in your life when you can feel something so strongly, even if it's not based on how you will feel in five years. The material from the Saturdays=Youth album especially honors the processing of those upsurges of emotion without dismissing them as frivolous or immature.
Tom Murphy Loïc Maurin and Morgan Kibby of M83 at Ogden Theater
Most of the set came from Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, but one surprise came with the performance of "Sitting," from the band's 2002 self-titled debut. "Steve McQueen" started out moody and then escalated into one of the most bombastically powerful numbers in the show. The great build and expansive intro to "Wait" seemed to elevate the song far beyond what could have been possible on a mere record. Later on in the set, the band played "Fall," from the Tron: Legacy Reconfigured soundtrack, and its incredibly heavy and moving low end was like some kind of pop dub song. The main set ended with "Don't Save Us From the Flames."
Tom Murphy Anthony Gonzales and Loïc Maurin of M83 at Ogden Theater
The band came back on for a kind of recasting of "Skin of the Night." The piano against the white noise in the beginning was particularly stirring on such a loud sound system. And when Morgan Kibby came in with her breathy vocals, it wasn't just a moody song, it was one that really expressed the heightened sense of reality and emotion that is the hallmark of Anthony Gonzalez's songwriting.
The synth interludes in the song were different from the original, or perhaps just more emphasized in the mix for this show, but it was vibrant in a different flavor from the studio version. The whole show came to an end with "Couleurs" after which everyone on stage bowed in honest thanks to the audience, with Gonzalez leaving the stage last.