Thursday, 21 November 2013

Submotion Orchestra Review by James Lillywhite

Submotion Orchestra live at Concorde 2, 17/11/13

The right atmosphere is vital to playing a successful gig. Regardless of the genre or the size of the band, getting the mood just right can make or break just how good a show is. Submotion Orchestra understand this better than most. 

From the moment the house lights dimmed and ‘SubMo’ walked onstage, the audience could tell that they were in for a special night. Accompanied by stunning minimalist lighting, the band began 90 minutes of their signature combination of dubstep, jazz and soul. It is a unique sound and, combined with the tranquil light show, is perfectly suited for the live environment. It was a show designed to engross an audience, to demand the singular attention of every person in the venue. If attaining the right atmosphere is vital to a live show then, Submotion Orchestra are playing a perfect game. 

Touring in support of their new EP ‘1968’, the band included a large amount of new songs in their setlist. While this can sometimes be a negative thing in the live environment, in this case the less familiar songs allowed the Brighton crowd to marvel at the exceptional musicianship of the band. 

From the sheer energy of the two percussionists Danny Templeman and Tommy Evans, to the blissful vocal skills of Ruby Wood, Submotion Orchestra are undoubtedly a talented outfit. In particular, the multi-instrumental skills of Bobby Beddoe and Taz Modi shine. Whether it be Modi’s beautiful tinkering at the piano, or Beddoe’s wonderful trumpet solos, these two front the band as much as Wood. Even the moment when Modi’s chair gives way under him halfway through the set (to which the audience applauded mid-song) can only distract for a small moment.

While the new songs were successful, it was the fan favourites that provided the highlights of the set. ‘It’s Not Me It’s You’, ‘Sunshine’ and many others were played, but it was ‘All Yours’ that was the stand out song of the Sunday night show. Backed by moody green lighting, Wood commanded the crowd in a sing-a-long, and as the track built into crescendo, so did the audience reaction. It was a truly show stopping moment, and one which will live long in the memory. 

The only negative of the night actually had nothing to do with the band. While most members of the crowd were swept away in the set, there was an unfortunate constant murmur of drunken chatter throughout. During some of the louder moments this was fine, but it was especially distracting during the quieter nuanced songs. It was a real shame, as the performance of the band demanded a focused audience, but a small minority undermined that idea. 

Aside from that, Submotion Orchestra were truly a marvel at the Concorde 2. The Leeds based seven-piece manipulated the atmosphere to create a unique air of visceral beauty. It was a live performance of pure quality and one that confirmed ‘SubMo’ as one of the premier live progressive electronic acts in the UK today.

Review by James Lillywhite

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