Internationally touring, headlining festivals around the country, and with a recent album that’s made the charts around the world, Two Door Cinema Club certainly seem to have it all at the moment. My inner thirteen-year-old squealed with delight at the opportunity to live review the Bangor band, whose music had for me been the stuff of flip-phone ringtones and high school birthday parties alike. However, it is fair to say that the group have undergone a range of stylistic changes since the release of their debut album Tourist History nearly seven years ago now. Their performance at the O2 Academy Bristol represented a triumphant reconciliation of old and new material, making for electric performance that filled an indoors venue on a rainy February evening with sunny festival vibes.
The band’s performance at Bristol comes as part of their UK leg of their current tour following the release of their third album Gameshow, which peaked in the UK charts at number five following its release in October 2016. Some reviews have critiqued the release as a step too far in the direction of pop given the band’s more indie roots in their debut and sophomore albums. However, in live performance, Alex Trimble’s vocals and Sam Halliday’s trademark riffs knitted all of the songs together, from the synthpop of tunes such as ‘Sleeps Alone’ to the more soft-rock sound of tracks like ‘Gameshow’. The result was much less a polarisation of “old songs” and “new songs”, but rather a seamlessly distinct sound.
Having said that, the songs that were best received amongst the crowd were certainly those from Tourist History. ‘Something Good Can Work’ and ‘I Can Talk’- both released back in 2010- were certainly some of the most popular amongst the audience, whereas the band’s current single ‘Ordinary’ received a notably less enthusiastic reaction from the audience of over 2000 fans.
The production was dynamic, featuring light displays across four towering cuboids that were strikingly reminiscent of the iconic set-pieces used by Brit-nominated band The 1975 in their recent international tour. To a great extent, this comparison is not unwarranted: you might well consider the indie tones of the music of Two Door Cinema Club as ‘like The 1975 but without the polemics’. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Whilst it can’t be said that Trimble did much to rile up the crowd (often going three or four songs at a times before addressing them at all) this turned out be completely unnecessary – the music sustained and animated the crowd all by itself.
‘Ordinary’ received a notably less enthusiastic reaction from the audience
The lead vocals were as diverse as they were clean, with Trimble packing a punch with powerful falsetto notes at some moments and allowing his voice to resonate with acute vulnerability at others. Although the vocals at times risked being overpowered by Halliday’s riffs or Kevin Baird’s synths, some of the most memorable moments of the performance were perhaps those where the frontman’s voice was deliberately given a chance to steal the show. Two Door Cinema Club’s closing song ‘What You Know’ for example opened with a stripped-back rendition of the chorus, giving a new and strangely beautiful significance to the simple lyrics I have heard so often.
To some extent, the infectious rhythms and lyrics with which Two Door Cinema Club have come to be associated make for pretty easy and enjoyable listening whether you know their songs or not. The band however never seemed to take this for granted. Each song was performed as a no-nonsense piece of feel-good music, making for a refreshingly dynamic and energetic concert.