Imagine a room full of people in a Wesleyan church, worshipping a crazed, chanting angel and a revolving pineapple disco ball. Does that seem odd? That was two hours of Glass Animals at the Albert Hall, Manchester last week. It was difficult to imagine how the songs from their two critically-acclaimed albums, ZABA and How to be a Human Being respectively, would translate live. Glass Animals are celebrated for their flavoursome, downright bizarre songs that don’t exactly inspire the same reaction as, say, Foo Fighters would (aka, incessant screaming, sweating and probably aggressive fist pumping). Despite this, each song was larger than life and, aside from a few technical issues, lead singer Dave Bayley’s personality raged through the 16-song set.
A surprisingly diverse bunch of people made up the crowd but the undoubtable devotion to the band was refreshing. It wasn’t the piss wet through, slippery affair of a Courteeners gig and it certainly wasn’t a stock-still, don’t-step- on-my- beige-loafers City and Colour gig either, Glass Animals have created their very own business model here. “Toes” is practically an antique, with fans losing all inhibitions to its catchy melodies and leftfield rhythms. The Red Hot Chili Peppers-inspired “Poplar St”, despite being mellow and dark, was a theatrical performance and “Cane Shuga”’s hymnal chanting and tickety-boom synths switched things up. By the encore of fan favourite “Pork Soda”, everyone was grooving to the infamous lyric “pineapples are in my head, got nobody ‘cause I’m braindead” without a hint of self-consciousness.
It should be a given but Bayley really knows his songs. As the band’s tunes are so meaty with intricate lyrics and synth garnishes, he could easily lollop around like a loon, not really having a good go. But he’d accentuate each zing or zip with a flick of the wrist or bop of the head, whilst basically gyrating the rest of his body. It’s truly difficult to describe his animal-like moves, but just know that he must have been bloody knackered by the end.
Despite the hip-hop inspired beats and bizarre nature of the band, there is a sexiness to Glass Animals’ songs. Perhaps that comes from the honeyed vocal, or how the whole outfit is so very well thought-out. Not a single thing is done by accident on the records or in a live capacity. “Agnes” was a real triumph – although it was met with scepticism initially, the grungy bass and angelic vocals ignited the room. There were gasps of awe at the remarkable light show here, as Bayley stood atop the bass drum and let the pineapple reflections wash over him. Let’s not dispel the importance of a good son et lumière here – there was real planning and effort put into it and the band’s technician certainly nailed it.
The evening was packed with character, uniqueness and fans having actual, unmeasured fun. So much so that it didn’t really matter much that the drummer seemed to forget what he was doing some of the time. Oh, how wrong it was to assume it would be a calm, quiet affair. If your fans can be bothered to bring real pineapples to your gig to fit your theme, you’re probably pretty damn loved.
Words Samantha Ewen (@FakeTalesofSam).