I bumped into Editors for the first time a couple of years ago in a Cambridge venue.
Their black Rickenbacker look, their metallic Rickenbacker sound pulled my attention from the first Rickenbacker chord they played.
At that time I had briefly listened to their album, The Back Room, few weeks later it became one of my favourites UK debuts in years.
Everything was “perfect in its imperfection”.
Their remarkable glorious, grand music was contained by the spontaneity of a debut act. The band, the album, the concert retained the enthusiasm of a young group and the rough approach of a young production.
Tom Smith body language takes you back to a young Michael Stipe. His voice undeniably evokes Ian Curtis. He leads the scene, he sings and divides between rhythm guitar and keyboards.
Chris Urbanowicz shrill, metallic, persistent guitar riffs systematically enter to perturb the balanced songs. The obsessive, insistent drumming is the perfect counterpart to pair that guitar slices. Bass loops, so manifest as to mark Peter Hook heritage, hold the things together.
With these ingredients, songs like Bullets, Munich and All Sparks became immediately classics. Live they showed up even better.
Success was easy predictable. How to keep that perfect equilibrium in the aftermath of their success wasn’t.
This is why I have been longing for their new album. My question was simple: Which direction? Would their sharp music keep packing small smoky (well, not anymore) clubs or new grandiose songs move Editors to arena-rock?
Despite the ambiguous title of their sophomore An end has a start, the answer is crystal clear. Editors next direction, supported by headline sets at festivals, gossip and celebrity girlfriends is to become BIG.
An end has a start is an overproduced, perfectly written and well executed piece of work. Virtually flawless.
This time around, it is “imperfect in its perfection”.
It is not fair to say it is a bad album, I don’t think it is. It is just too easy, predictable, undemanding. A certain hit record. You listen to it, it stays in your mind. You can have it all at first hearing, plain as a sugar pill. It has neither the maturity of a deep 100% dark chocolate nor the elegance of a jasmine chocolate truffle. It doesn’t hide anything to delight in additional listening.
With such a preamble, I wanted to listen to it live. It was also going to be the last chance to catch them in a relatively small venue.
As for the album, they put on a flawless live show. Tom Smith has acquired extra confindence and now acts as an arena-ready front-man. But the concert is a humdrum exercise, lacks the former enthusiasm. The new songs are often better, revised old tunes are worse. Why attempting a different version of Munich? Isn’t it perfect as it is?
Hit single Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors shines in the encore. The concert finish at its climax, I start pondering.
Chris Urbanowicz guitar commence to show its limit. He is to some extent in a similar position to The Edge’s beginning. Technically he is not the most talented musician but, more important, its Rickenbacker has that instantly recognizable clear, incisive jangle which is, more than Tom’s voice, more than rhythm session, the distinctive Editors sound.
So typical that it is becoming repetitive. Soon he should try to lead Editors music in more adventurous lands, but I feel that they will stick to safer, chart-topper, territory.
When Editors emerged, they were accused to emulate the sound of their contemporary New York cousins, the Interpol (not including Joy Division and past influences). True indeed. But Editors songs are “more-pop(ular), less-arty” than Interpol’s work. Basically Birmingham is not the Big Apple, is it?
With their new albums Editors and Interpol took different, both unconvincing, directions.
Editors managed to prove that in the rock landscape, the distance that separates Joy Division from Coldplay is not that far. They just built the missing bridge.
What an awkward truth, I would have never anticipated that, would you?
Now I sit here and wait to see which part of the bridge they are going to walk.
If in the meanwhile you want to know more about them, you have 3 songs on the liveon35mm player on the right (everything available from Sonific) and more on the official links here: [myspace] [official site]
Wouldn’t this be the precise post to talk about photographers liaison with editors (I mean the professionals, not the band!)? It would, but I have the feeling that writing about endless pleading e-mails it is at the same time boring and a guarantee that even my few pictures seldom published would be discarded!
I pass on it and I will irk (I like this word!) you with something technical.
Yes, that stuff that amateur photographers love as much as professionals hate.
Editors (the band!) gig was atypical, photography-wise.
The white dressed singer was constantly lit up by a strong clear light that allowed shooting aperture up to f/5.6 (ISO800, shutter 1/60), when I usually struggle with f/2.0.
The guitarist quite the opposite, he stood in a darker area, with a black T-shirt. Back to familiar, distressing f/2.0 field.
As a general rule I set both cameras manually. Shutter to 1/60s with aperture between f/1.4 and 2.8 (experience driven). It works fine on fixed lenses ranging from 35mm to 85mm.
I don’t trust automatisms and exposure meters, with such rapid light changes a blinking backlight can mess up your image. I know all of you going digital can check and change the setting quickly but don’t forget that the 3 songs time vanishes in a wink. Stopping to look at the pictures can be a waste of precious seconds and best moment. Murphy’s laws applies scientifically to concert photography. Fact.
If you find yourselves in this odd light reality, your best option is probably to have ready two cameras. One for each light setting.
If luck is on your side, it’s rare I know, you can decide which lens best suits either camera so that you don’t have to change them and will save even more precious pit-time. If you are happy with a zoom and a single digital camera then you are very lucky, but remember to modify the aperture accordingly.