Live Review: Glass Animals @ The O2 Academy, Oxford.

By Ellie Lee

Photo by @kmeron (https://www.flickr.com/photos/frf_kmeron/26887910564).

With only a debut and a recent critically acclaimed album, Glass Animal’s music output is easy to digest. In many ways, it’s your standard easy listening… “imagine you are floating alone on a lilo on the ocean in a gentle breeze.” Yet then there’s that “peanut butter vibe” that stickily coats the roof of your mouth, like a post-bop-cheesy-chips. In concert they are a completely different experience. By starting their UK tour in Oxford, Glass Animals were returning to their roots and with all the energy of an 18 year old on their first night out.

They are one of very few artists who sound entirely different live compared to a recording. On stage the group has a brilliant vitality, helped in part by the very tactical move of increasing the tempo of their music for their live shows. The ‘vibes’ resonated like lacquer, soaking the audience both in atmosphere, and indeed, human sweat. With the band’s opener, ‘Life Itself’, the whole crowd surged. It was magnificent. Although the band was less preoccupied with in-between-song-small-talk, you could still feel a connection and it seemed they were definitely enjoying being home.

Lead singer and guitarist Dave Bayley was definitely having more fun than me (and I was reasonably intoxicated) as evidenced by his choice to dive into the audience, wade through the flowing crowd, and then leap up on to the bar… indie rock’s very own Dewey Finn. It all felt a bit like tripping in some classic Cowley house party. As the refrain “pineapples are in my head” of the closing song – Pork Soda ­– washed over the singing crowd, Dave even picked up a real pineapple and chucked it in. Surreal.

One Glass Animals comment (not necessarily an insult) that I have heard on several occasions is that “their songs do kind of all sound the same”. Although, this is true to some extent, you can’t deny the energy of each track. In order to critique Glass Animals somewhat more effectively, is to look at how well the tracks work holistically. Indeed, the set list didn’t feel stilted at all, but instead flowed wonderfully, dipping in and out of both their old and new album. Despite their most recent work having a less melancholic edge, it seems Glass Animals have not forgotten their old sound. The band take a somewhat Bowie-esque approach with their lyrics; rather than being concerned with narrative they prefer to build images that linger in the mind well after a listen. Many a line is phonetically delicious, some practically percussive, “codeine coca cola”. Even more are perfectly suited for the average uni-student: “got dizzy on caffeine” and “I’m brain-dead”.

As much as it pains me to use the phrase, Glass Animals are ‘pretty damn fresh’. At the tender age of two-years-old they have done well for themselves. They sound good and they look good. More specifically, has there been a greater bearer of the Primary Colour T-Shirt than Dave? Crucially though, the band taps into the bizarre youth culture of today. With a well-maintained aesthetic (just go on their website and you’ll know what I mean) they can only get bigger…

Glass Animals’ latest album, How To Be a Human Being, is now available on Spotify.

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