Thursday, September 18

MGMT/ Florence & The Machine- Live

. Thursday, September 18

MGMT/ Florence & The Machine
Manchester Academy 2
Tuesday May 20th.

It’s a testament to the popularity of MGMT’s breakthrough single ‘Time To Pretend’ that just under three months ago the New York collective played in Manchester at the much smaller Night & Day café. That gig, like tonight’s in the considerably larger Academy 2 sold out and with festival season approaching MGMT’s star is most certainly in ascendance. The question remains however, besides that song what exactly do MGMT have to offer?

First up however is the effervescent and charming Florence & The Machine. Having bubbled away on the edges of the radar the stars seem to be aligning for Florence at the moment and a high profile support slot on this tour is only going to send her higher and higher. A short and sweet set is started with a cover of Cold War Kids single ‘Hospital Bed’; strange to start a show with a cover but it is the first introduction to Florence’s breathtaking voice. A voice that pierces, soars and fly’s it is the highlight of tonight’s show- the voice takes songs like ‘Birdsong’ and ‘Girl With 1 Eye’ to a different stratosphere. However despite boasting a voice so strong melody does not seem to be pivotal to Florence’s songs, too many times where slight restraint would be more beneficial she opts to really belt it out. One assumes that maturity and a good album producer will curb this urge and see Florence mature into the talent she clearly has is buckets. Set highlight is new Moshi Moshi single ‘Kiss With A Fist’ that is as punchy as it is sweet, this time next year she could, nay should be massive.

MGMT’s ‘Oracular Spectacular’ may well flirt with the ‘Best Of’ lists at the end of the year but if there was a ‘Most eclectic’ list then it would surely be a dead certainty for number one. Probably best described as sounding like Scissor Sisters covering The Rolling Stones on LSD the album veers from out and out pop to psychedelic meanderings via electronic club smashes. The live show is a similarly hit and miss affair.

The two piece (Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden) photographed on the bands album cover are boosted by three extra member for the show with a second guitarist, bassist and a drummer. The drummer, for no apparent reason is sat behind an unfeasible large drum kit, you half expect it to start twisting and flaming a la Joey Jordison or Tommy Lee at any moment. Lead singer VanWyngarden is the main emphasis for tonight, partly because he is singing all the songs; mainly because he has arrived on stage in a floral dress. The show starts on a really impressive roll; kicking off with an instrumental flight of folly ‘Weekend Wars’ soon permeates it’s way through the skin and it’s off kilter dreamy pop stylings see the crowd swaying and seduced. ‘Electric Feel’ follows suit, taking a more Glam approach to the much-documented Mercury Rev similarities, a second hit if ever there was one. The three-headed opener is completed by album highlight ‘The Youth’ an ethereal and heavenly slice of pop perfection. Having started so well MGMT set the bar very high for themselves and sadly from here on in they tried in vain but simply could not clear the jump.

Three quarters of tonight’s gig was self indulgent, bloated and boring. Too many songs wandered away from the already loose album recordings with extended jam sections spoiling the likes of ‘Pieces Of What’ and ‘The Handshake’. You could see the crowds attention was wandering and not just because they were itching to hear ‘Time To Pretend’. Obviously a gig by a supposed ‘One Hit Wonder’ band is going to be a frustrating affair. It would be naïve to assume that 75% of people were here for anything besides the song and the only time MGMT engage the whole room is during said four and a half minutes. Having played ‘the hit’ the room predictably begins to empty, playing a ‘Future Reflections’ and a little known Kinks cover do little to keep feet from the door.

If the second half of the main set was hard work then the encore feels slightly like a joke. A fourteen minute histrionic and pointless first track is dragged out until the tedious end before the natural show stopper ‘Kids’ is wheeled out. Bizarrely the band opts not to actually play this, instead VanWyngrden and Goldwasser sing over a backing track. The crowd go wild nonetheless though and it looks like MGMT have rescued the gig with a brilliant show stopper. However this is not the case and as VanWyngarden says “This is our last song, we are just going to improvise some stuff, see what happens’ the room quickly empties. Patience has been tested and broken.

In a shorter, hit laden festival set MGMT will be outstanding, however given time and space to roam they simply do not have the charisma or inventiveness to carry off an hour plus set at this point in their career. Sadly on tonight’s display it seems MGMT are far more filler than they are killer.

Florence & The Machine 7/10
MGMT 5/10

'Time To Pretend' (Live on Letterman)



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