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Live Review: Maribou State

18 July 2019 | 10:30 am | Luke Dassaklis

"No one was left seated."

The stage at Sydney’s Opera House more closely resembled the pit of an orchestra than what one would expect for an electronic outfit from the UK. Maribou State’s set-up was exceptional. To the left of stage, chairs and music stands were set to accommodate a small string section. On the right was a vast and intricate drum kit. In between were a variety of instruments from bongo drums to guitars and numerous keyboards.

The lights dimmed and an eclectic soundscape washed over the audience, taking full advantage of the acoustics of the building. Low lights gradually built in intensity, making silhouettes of the band as they ran across the stage. They opened with Beginner's Luck before rolling seamlessly into Nervous Tics. The members of Maribou State floated between their respective set-ups smoothly - the only thing more numerous than the instruments on stage were the invisible loop pedals they seemed to have mastery over. Keys, synth and percussion were flawlessly layered, creating an impressive wall of sound. Maribou State were acutely aware of their craft, taking their time to build an impressive jam. The light show was equally remarkable, perfectly curated and timed to complement the music. 

Gradually the audience started standing and dancing in the aisles. By the time frequent collaborator Holly Walker came out to add her lofty vocals to an already deep and complex sonic environment, no one was left seated. Steal rolled into Kingdom, which in turn gave way to Midas. Glasshouses was the perfect tune to highlight the prowess of the string section, who nailed every syncopated note, adding a touch of elegance and class that was perfectly juxtaposed with the sweaty Englishmen slaving away over their synths. Before anyone knew it, the band left the stage, returning for an obligatory encore performance of Turnmills.

Maribou State were fantastic. They were a tight unit, showcasing the intense musicality that can lie behind electro and dance music. They managed to recreate the breadth and intensity of their albums and set it perfectly in the spectacle of the Sydney Opera House. But as many left the venue, having been confined to seats and aisles for the entirety of the show, it was only natural to think that they may have been even better seen from a sticky floor with a sweaty mosh.