Live Show Review: Editors @ Showbox 2/5

Review by Royal Stuart | Photos by Puja Parakh

The musicians that make up Editors sound as if they’ve done hard time in various cover bands and through sheer coincidence ended up on the same stage together. Imagine a band comprised of musicians doing their best to perform like Ian McCulloch (vocals), The Edge (lead guitar), Justin Chancellor (bass guitar) and Trent Reznor (drums), all thrown together and forced to perform their favorite goth rock songs from Depeche Mode, Bauhaus, and Interpol. This is exactly what I heard Friday night at Showbox at the Market.

It’s a strange thing to see a band that typically performs in 12,000-capacity stadiums in Europe performing in front of less than 1,000 in Seattle. I had the distinct feeling the band has gotten used to being a bit more disconnected, a bit farther away from the audience, than the large room allowed. They appeared as if merely going through the motions, pushing themselves to try and look like the true rock legends they are imitating, as if they’re saying in the back of their heads “This is how I’m supposed to act on stage” throughout the show. The jumping around felt forced; the interactions scripted. The motions were there, but the emotion was missing.

This was not the same band I saw perform on the much smaller Chop Suey stage in 2006. Perhaps it was the fact that this was the first night of their North American tour, or that the band was surely jet lagged from their halfway-around-the-world flight into Seattle, but I find myself unable to cut them some slack. These aren’t small-time musicians trying to turn their hobby into a full-time career. These are seasoned, stadium-headlining musicians in the prime of their collective career. But apparently someone forgot to let them know.

There were a number of devoted fans in the near-capacity crowd, gleefully singing along to every one of Tom Smith’s baritone lyrics. And even though it was released only 2.5 weeks ago in the US, songs from the new album, In This Light and On This Evening, got the singalong treatment as well. I’ve enjoyed Editors ever since The Back Room was released in 2005, but I’ve always had trouble discerning one song from the next. Apparently this is a problem I share with no one, as, during the show, with the start of every new song — invariably a heavy drum beat or an electronic loop — a shout of recognition would rise up in the crowd.

The intense wailing that Chris Urbanowicz is able to coax from his guitar — doing his best to sound like The Edge — is prevalent throughout the band’s debut, The Back Room, and its followup, An End Has a Start, and is disappointingly, glaringly missing from the new album. Urbanowicz is a fine keyboard player, but only when he picks up that guitar and hits that repeated high-note over and over again does he —and the band’s music — really come to life. Strangely, it’s only when the band introduced Flood to the mix does the band take a turn towards the electro-pop. While recording In This Light and On This Evening, the storied engineer and producer of many genre-defining U2 albums (including the Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby, and never mind the various other influential albums he’s engineered and produced for Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, and even Sigur Rós) somehow convinced Urbanowicz to put down the axe and start poking at a sound machine. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during that conversation.

This anemic shift in sound is immediately recognizable during the changing from song to song during their live show. At the end of the hour and 15-minute set, the band had performed all 9 songs from the latest album, and 10 songs from their previous two. And of all 9 from the new album, only two songs brought that glimmer of passion familiar to long-time fans. “Bricks and Mortar” — the song that topped off the opening set, and “Papillon,” one of four songs that made its way into the encore: both of these songs are a natural extension of the band’s first two albums, and they worked very well in the live setting. But the remaining seven songs from the new album, all performed with seemingly vacant gusto by the band, just left me yawning and counting the seconds until they got back to what they do best. The liveliest, most genuine parts of the evening came during the songs the band is overly familiar with. “Lights,” “Munich,” “Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors,” and “Bullets,” all of the band’s most anthemic songs, received the best treatment on stage.

In the end, I think what brought the show down the most may have been the new songs. It’s hard to enliven music that, while recorded and reproduced beautifully in my headphones, generally leaves one feeling bored when performed. And no matter how hard a band can try to bring the songs to life on stage, they’re doomed from the start. Can we just go back to the beginning?

The full set list:

In This Light and On This Evening


An End Has A Start

You Don’t Know Love


The Boxer

The Big Exit


Eat Raw Meat

The Racing Rats

Like Treasure



Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors

Bricks & Mortar

Walk the Fleet Road



Fingers in the Factories


~ by clickdagger on February 8, 2010.

One Response to “Live Show Review: Editors @ Showbox 2/5”

  1. That picture of the set list is HOT!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: