Led by French producer Anthony Gonzalez, M83 emanates something that is at once lush and inviting, while simultaneously pulses and swells in a manner that seems, well, nearly dangerous. It’s like being at the point where a rainforest meets the ocean. It is epic -- nothing short of that.
Gonzalez’s sounds crashed onto the beach of people sifted like sand into every nook of In the Venue. Aided by three touring members, M83 elevated a grandiose sound that could have easily been transplanted with cunning execution into a much larger venue.
But to those who know Gonzalez’s back catalog and his history as a producer, this came as no surprise. The artist is capable of creating whatever aesthetic he wants, as seen in his diverse six studio albums. And the aesthetic for this performance matched the hopeful, intrepid and boisterous Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, Gonzalez’s critically acclaimed 2011 double-disc release.
Adding to that vibe, multi-instrumentalist Jordan Lawler (chosen as part of Gonzalez’s YouTube search last fall; pictured below) played energetically, to say the least, with full-stage pacing, leg gyrations and pelvic thrusts in excess.
Add in backup singer/keyboardist Morgan Kibby’s possessed piano playing and frequent hair flips (note: no ridiculous references to her "bangin' bod") and drummer Loic Maurin’s precise and pounding stick work and you have a full-on rock & roll show. The band captured a spirit that lent itself to nothing short of contagious fervor and unfolding sonic bliss -- what the live music experience should be about. There was, however, a guy with about a half dozen laptops on the side of the stage, and it is unknowable what sonic part he played in the whole thing. Regardless ...
Visually, the band went big, as well, with a backdrop of a twinkling LED night sky, a half-dozen rotating, pulsating spotlights and freestanding neon columns that produce a kaleidoscopic rainbow as colorful as the music that was being produced.
The set was largely drawn from Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, with churning numbers like “This Bright Flash” and beautifully painted soundscapes like “Reunion” and “Wait.” Some of the highlights, did, however, come from Saturdays = Youth, such as
"Kim and Jessie" and "We Own the Sky."
M83’s racing ‘80s-esque hit (If you don’t know Gonzalez’s love of all things from that era, read this), toward the end of the set just had the crowd going bonkers, especially when “sax symbol” Ian Young stepped out onto the stage to blow a sultry solo. Young again joined the band to play “Couleurs” during a three-song encore for a big finish that left the crowd in front of the stage jumping together in time to the music as one amorphous blob with hundreds of hands. It was an unforgettable show.
All photos by Brian Parcells.