Live Review: Mercury Rev, Avalanches DJs

11 December 2015 | 3:47 pm | Guido Farnell

"Leaving the stage, the band literally just disappears in a puff of smoke."

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Over the years, Mercury Rev have evolved to the point where they seem to have cut themselves loose and are content to peacefully drift through the dreamiest pop music they can possibly produce. They have been through personally tough and chaotic times over the past few years. Borne out of this tumultuous time, their first album in seven years The Light In You comes wrapped in spacious ambiences and soft and delicate textures that ride on synthesised orchestral arrangements and woozy spaced-out psychedelics.

Original members Jonathan Donahue and Sean "Grasshopper" Mackowiak touring with a fairly conventional rock band capture the majesty of the recorded versions, but loose some of the subtle swirl. Their tunes may start sweetly but as they build into exhilarating workouts, Mercury Rev shift into interstellar overdrive that dazzles. Donahue's soft upper register has him singing with the sweet sincerity of a little boy, but there's plenty of experience in his lyrics. Sporting a subtle glitter beard, Donahue thanks the Avalanches DJs for an eclectic set of tunes, suggesting that they are on the cusp of releasing a truly astonishing album. Fingers crossed they are going to do it soon. The crowd's desire for Deserter's Songs is indulged with The Funny Bird's powerfully wild rock out, while the drifting Endlessly appropriately steals from Silent Night so close to Christmas. Later the Lennon-esque Holes holds its own and proves to be utterly spellbinding. Technical difficulties during Are You Ready? are an awkward glitch ahead of the indulgently romantic coo of You're My Queen. A massive extended take on the James Bond theme styled maneuvers of The Dark Is Rising comes down with a massive bass chord that is just left hanging in the air, deafening and signalling that the show's over. Leaving the stage, the band literally just disappears in a puff of smoke.