REVIEW: Everything Everything, O2 Academy, Newcastle

Art-rockers Everything Everything performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.
Art-rockers Everything Everything performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Art rockers Everything Everything put on a spellbinding performance at the O2 Academy in Newcastle on Friday night.

Jonathan Higgs possesses one of the most distinctive voices in music today, and he hit every mesmerising falsetto note during an mammoth extended set.

Art-rockers Everything Everything performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Art-rockers Everything Everything performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

It was quite the show for the audience, and also for Higgs' mother, who was in attendance and watched from the balcony as the band proclaimed this to be the first night of the tour that felt "really good".

Despite November being a packed month for live music in the north-east, the venue was packed for the latest visit of a band who draw influences from a wide range of sources.

Although their songs are distinctively pop in structure, the combination of unusual vocal stylings, laptop processing and varied inspirations from across the musical spectrum have helped Everything Everything stand out as one of the most unique bands of recent times.

Earlier, all-female trio Stealing Sheep had impressed as openers, their mellow electro-pop winning over an initially sceptical audience and threatening to upstage the more-established headliners.

Art-rockers Everything Everything performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Art-rockers Everything Everything performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Taking to the stage early in sunglasses and matching one-piece outfits, and performing among a vast array of electronic music technology, they were quite the sight for an unsuspecting audience.

Opening with an extended instrumental section, comparisons to electronic pioneers Kraftwerk seemed almost too obvious, although they would gradually reveal their true colours as a psychedelia-tinged pop band of enormous multi-instrumental talent.

It was a hugely impressive support set - and as they helped to unload their equipment from the stage afterwards, it felt like such potential stars might have a stage crew to do that for them in the near future.

Everything Everything took to the stage to a huge fanfare, backed by a mostly blue and magenta light show and opening with To the Blade, the first track from their recent album Get To Heaven, a dark pop effort which deals with all manner of themes drawn from major news events of recent years.

Art-rockers Everything Everything performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Art-rockers Everything Everything performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Despite the downbeat topical content, their live performance rarely seemed depressing or moody - except for back-to-back tracks which Higgs called the "emotional bit" - meaning that the night wasn't the bleak affair it might have been.

Instead, it was actually quite lively, as a devoted audience sang along with both new tracks and classics like My Kz, Ur Bf and Photoshop Handsome.

It was also, noticeably, a show with very few smartphones on display, with fans shedding the temptation to record videos and instead remaining immersed in the live music experience in a way lost on today's generation of gig-goers.

Stealing Sheep re-emerged for to provide backing vocals on the popular Regret - "because these guys are ****, said Higgs, referring to the other members of his band - and it proved to be one of the best songs of the night.

Stealing Sheep threatened to steal the show from headliners Everything Everything at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Stealing Sheep threatened to steal the show from headliners Everything Everything at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The on-stage performance itself wasn't visually dynamic, mostly driven by lights, as the band mostly remained still and occasionally clapped along to their sounds.

Their set also felt like it lasted a long time, before they finally left the stage and a genre-savvy crowd struck up a chant of "three more songs".

The encore would, in fact, only feature two more tracks, ending with Distant Past, the first song revealed from Get To Heaven back in February and already a huge crowd favourite.

Closer to mainstream dance music than anything else they've done, backed by samples and with an infectious pop chorus, it was a fitting and crowd-pleasing way to close the show.

Both fans and band were oblivious to the tragic events occurring at the Bataclan venue in Paris during their set, at a gig by Eagles of Death Metal, who had played in this room just four days earlier, to a similar-sized audience.

After leaving the stage and becoming aware of the extent of the attacks, Everything Everything simply tweeted, "Vive La France".

Stealing Sheep threatened to steal the show from headliners Everything Everything at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Stealing Sheep threatened to steal the show from headliners Everything Everything at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.