The Polyphonic Spree
Liverpool, East Village Arts Club
Look, I love Arcade Fire as much as the next man but I tell you this - when Win Butler dreams, he dreams of being in The Polyphonic Spree.
All the joy, the elation, the fervour, the belief and spirituality that Butler thinks his band exemplify but which actually come across as just a little bit needy, po-faced, overly serious and deliberately, self consciously ‘wacky’ (in the worst possible way) are present, correct, genuine and honest in The Polyphonic Spree.
So, as the City’s hipsters continued this bizarre ironic infatuation with Future Islands’ ongoing reinvention of the bits of the ‘80s that we didn’t want at the time (yes, I’ve heard the album, two words: Howard. Jones.) those of us that wanted reality and beauty and truth and passion were at a packed, sweaty, enthralled EVAC to witness another instalment of The Spree’s determination to revive the Age of Aquarius.
The Polyphonic Spree are big, in every possible sense of the word. Too big for EVAC, too big for small venues, too big a sound, too large a personnel; fourteen people on stage including trumpet, trombone, violin, cello, four piece choir, twin guitar attack and irrepressible front man Tim DeLaughter. The band should be headlining Glastonbury - they’d certainly be a much more appropriate fit than the god-awful Metallica (and here’s an idea for you - instead of campaigning for Metallica to be thrown off the Glasto bill due to their frontman’s bear hunting proclivities, campaign for them to be thrown off because they’re inherently rubbish.)
The Spree then, late ‘60s orchestral psychedelia, epic, every song a massive set closer, start to finish, start big, get bigger, end bigger still, repeat. Massive on album, a Spector-esque wall of sound live, all presented by a frontman basking in his love for this very expensive hobby of his. (Seriously? Going on tour with a 14 strong band? Economic insanity)
The set covers their entire decade plus career from ‘The Beginning Stages’ to this year’s largely neglected ‘Yes, It’s True’, pulling in a pair of well chosen covers as they go. The Monkees’ ‘Porpoise Song’ fits beautifully with their giant psych pop wash but to follow this with the declaration that they’re going to play something by ‘an old Scouse scallywag’ before launching into as fine a rendition of ‘Live And Let Die’ as you’re ever likely to hear? Bliss indeed.
You haven’t missed out yet though. The band are touring the country in similar ‘far too small for their majesty’ venues culminating in an appearance at what must count as their spiritual home, The Isle of Wight Festival, undoubtedly too low on the bill and on a stage that will again fail to hold their sound. Do yourselves a favour, drop the irony and the (wrong part of the) eighties and embrace beauty instead.